close
Advertisement
Can't connect right now! retry

add The News to homescreen

tap to bring up your browser menu and select 'Add to homescreen' to pin the The News web app

Got it!

add The News to homescreen

tap to bring up your browser menu and select 'Add to homescreen' to pin the The News web app

Got it!
AFP
August 10, 2020

Pressure mounts on Lebanon govt

World

AFP
August 10, 2020

Beirut: Lebanon’s political elite faced pressure from all sides Sunday after a deadly explosion blamed on official negligence, with the first cabinet resignation over the affair and angry protesters clashing with security forces.

As hopes faded of finding any survivors of Tuesday’s blast, social media was flooded with furious posts after a night that saw protesters briefly take over ministries in central Beirut. A picture went viral on social media showing the city’s devastated port, with a low wall in the foreground bearing the spray-painted message: “My government did this.”

While it is not known what started the fire that set off a huge stockpile of ammonium nitrate, protesters say the disaster could not have happened without the corruption and incompetence that have come to define Lebanon’s ruling class.

“Those who died paid the price of a state that doesn’t care about anything except power and money,” said protester Tamara, 23, whose friend Rawan, 20, was killed in the blast. “It’s not enough that ministers resign,” said another of her friends, Michel.

“Those who put the explosives there must be held accountable. We want an international tribunal to tell us who killed (Rawan).” The explosion devastated Beirut and took the lives of at least 158 people.

The Lebanese army’s Colonel Roger Khoury, who was leading a rescue team at the blast site, said Sunday that “we have fading hopes of finding survivors”. The catastrophe has revived the mass anti-government protests that had for months demanded the wholesale removal of Lebanon’s political elite, until coronavirus lockdown measures brought an uneasy calm.

On Sunday afternoon, hundreds gathered again in and around Martyrs’ Square, a short walk from the site of the blast. Police fired tear gas in an attempt to disperse protesters hurling stones and shooting fireworks near an access street to parliament, AFP correspondents reported.

Demonstrators had briefly taken over several government ministries the previous night, while security forces scuffled with larger crowds of protesters converging on the epicentre of the protests.