Prime Minister Hassan Diab on Monday announced his government’s resignation, amid widespread public fury at the country’s ruling elite over last week’s devastating explosion in Beirut.
The move risks opening the way to dragged-out negotiations over a new Cabinet amid urgent calls for reform.
“This disaster is the result of chronic corruption,” Diab said in an address to the nation, referring to the port disaster.
“The corruption network is bigger than the state,” the resigned PM added, lamenting that some only care about “populist speeches.”
“Some did not properly interpret the October 17 revolution. That revolution was against them,” Diab went on to say.
He decried that “a (political) class resisted through all dirty means to prevent change,” adding that “they knew that we resembled a threat to them.”
“They should have been ashamed of themselves because their corruption is what has led to this disaster that had been hidden for seven years,” he added.
“Today we are heeding people’s demand for real change. Today we will take a step back in order to stand with the people,” Diab said.
He added: “I declare today the resignation of this government. May God protect Lebanon,” repeating the last phrase three times.
The developments follow a weekend of anti-government protests in the wake of the Aug. 4 explosion in Beirut’s port that caused widespread destruction, killed at least 160 people and injured about 6,000 others.
Protests were also underway on Monday during Diab’s speech.