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Beirut Explosion: Government Resignation and Widespread Protests Grapple Lebanon

Beirut Explosion: Government Resignation and Widespread Protests Grapple Lebanon

Beirut is the capital city of Lebanon and this large city remained unknown to the world until the recent devastating Beirut explosions termed as a “disaster beyond measure” by the Lebanese Prime Minister.

On August 4, 2020 two explosions at Beirut’s port, caused due to 2750 tons of confiscated Ammonium Nitrate catching fire, killed more than 220 and injured more than 6000. The explosions have been traumatizing for many and have caused unfathomable damage to property including buildings, homes and cars. The city’s largest hospital, Saint George Hospital was forced to treat patients on the streets because of its facility being damaged extensively. Estimates indicate more than 10 billion dollars in property damage and 3 lakh people being displaced to become homeless.

NASA analysis on Beirut blasts
Beirut Explosions: Red pixels represent the most severe damage. Areas in orange are moderately damaged, and areas in yellow are likely to have sustained somewhat less damage. Each pixel represents an area of 30 metres. Credits: NASA’s ARIA team, in collaboration with the Earth Observatory of Singapore, NASA/JPL-Caltech/Earth Observatory of Singapore/ESA

The confiscated Ammonium Nitrate was stored at Beirut’s Port without proper safety measures for more than 6 years, indicating that the explosion could be completely avoided.

The Prime Minister Hassan Diab announced his resignation along with clearly implying the resignation of the the entire government, which was accepted by the President Michel Aoun. Though, until a new cabinet is formed, the current government would be required to continue in a caretaker capacity.

Prime minister submitting resignation
Prime Minister Hassan Diab tendering his governments resignation to the President
Credits: Reuters

The resignation comes as an acceptance of the governments failure to fight corruption and miss-management which the government was repeatedly accused of. The citizens of Lebanon are blaming the government to be solely responsible for the Beirut explosion.

A great number of protests erupted against the government and took place across the city especially outside the government headquarters. Unfortunately many of these have turned violent, with protesters pelting stones and glass shards while the forces resorted to tear gas and rubber bullets to fire at the protesters. The aggressive retaliation was found to violate international standards on use of force.

Protesters facing security forces
After Beirut Explosion: Protesters clashing with security forces
Credits: CNN, https://edition.cnn.com/2020/08/08/middleeast/beirut-judgment-day-protests-intl/index

Lebanon has already been reeling under a heavy economic crisis causing it to loose more than 60% of its currency value and has seen 2 government overturns and resignations in the last 10 months. With widespread corona-virus and sovereign debt defaults, this couldn’t be any worse for Lebanon. With Hassan Diab’s resignation, Lebanon would now have to choose it’s third Prime Minister and government very soon.

The President has rejected the need for any international probe for the investigation of the explosions and a committee of the Council of Ministers of Lebanon shall investigate whether the explosion was an accident, bombing or external interference.

The UN, Arab States and countries like France and USA are trying to extend support and assistance to Lebanon in financial forms and have proposed drastic changes to ensure the recovery of governance in the country of Lebanon.

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