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Lebanese PM Resigns after protests erupt following Beirut Blast

In the aftermath of Beirut blast, the present Lebanese government has resigned to make space for a new government. The announcement was made during a national TV address by Prime Minister Hassan Diab on Monday evening. Diab government was under severe criticism from the Lebanese people who blamed last week’s Beirut tragedy on negligence and corruption by the country’s leadership. PM Diab’s resignation is followed by his three cabinet ministers stepping down along with seven members of the parliament in less than a week following the blast. The tragedy left, over 200 dead, with thousands injured and several missing. 

The port city saw a humongous blast caused by a huge cache of Ammonium nitrate, about 2,750 tonnes that were kept at a depot at the Port of Beirut without proper safety measures for years at one of the busiest ports in the region. The blast ripped through the city, devastating several kilometers of the area from the spot. The port of Beirut, which also handles about 80% of foodgrain import into Lebanon and is considered a gateway to the Middle East in the Mediterranean sea, is not going to be fully functional for a long time

The tragedy fueled public sentiment against the government as it was already facing charges of mismanagement on account of corruption, economic crisis, job losses, and food shortages. Following the blast, the anti-government protestors took to the street in large numbers. Many incidences of violence have been reported from several parts of the city where police had to resort to using force to disperse the protestors and bring the situation under the control.

The current prime minister of Lebanon had sworn in only a few months ago in December 2019. He came with a promise of turning the situation around. However, in the almost 10 months of his tenure, the Lebanese currency has lost about 70% of its value and poverty has risen, with COVID pandemic looming large and creating one of the worst economic crisis in the country in recent times.

Meanwhile, the world community has come together to express solidarity with the crisis-hit people of Lebanon. French President Emanuel Macron was one of the first global leaders to visit Beirut immediately after the blast. Many countries and international aid organisations have sent tonnes of essential supplies for the people of Lebanon. An international donor conference was also held on Sunday, which was hosted by the French President and attended by global leaders including US President Donald Trump and 15 other heads of state. The leaders pledged approximately $300 million in aid to Lebanon with a caution that transparency must be ensured in using the aid. 

The explosion at the Beirut Port on August 4th has almost wiped out the neighbourhood, leaving about 2,50,000 people homeless, destroying business centers, and burning down grain stockpiles. It is estimated that the blast has wiped out up to 25% off of the country’s GDP.

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