Lebanon PM calls for early election, says ‘corruption’ led to deadly Beirut explosion

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Lebanon’s Prime Minister Hassan Diab said on Saturday that the deadly Beirut explosion happened due to corruption and mismanagement, and added that he will put forward a draft bill for snap parliamentary elections during a cabinet meeting on Monday.

In a live speech addressing the nation, Diab called for “everyone to come together to overcome this stage,” and said, “We are in a state of emergency related to the fate of the country and its future.”

He attributed the families of the victims of the port explosion, and said: “The investigation into the disaster of the Beirut explosion will not take time. We are not clinging to the chair [Power] and want a national solution that saves the country,” reported the National News Agency NNA.

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Diab also called on all political parties to “agree on the next stage,” and said: “I am ready to assume responsibility for the presidency of the government for a period of two months, provided that structural reforms be undertaken to save the country.”

He added, “I will present a bill in the cabinet to hold early parliamentary elections,” on Monday.

“As I said few hours following the explosion, Lebanon was hit with a huge disaster… which left devastating effects.. I promised the Lebanese people that I won’t allow those responsible to go unpunished, I want to confirm today that none of those responsible will be protected.”

Diab also said: “How come such a hazardous warehouse is kept since 2013 without any action being taken? Isn’t strange that this was never brought up in any of the meetings of the the Supreme Council of Defense over a period of seven years?

“Who is benefiting from storing these materials at the port?” Diab said.

Diab also said that the investigation will reveal the truth and that “the investigation will not take long.”

Praising the judiciary, Diab added “the taken measures reflect the seriousness of the investigation.”

“We came into office amidst exceptional circumstances, in the aftermath of October 17 Revolution that expressed the anger of the Lebanese toward the reality that they have been experiencing, marred with decades of corruption; the subsequent explosion which happened four days ago is one of the results of this corruption.”

“Corruption and mismanagement have brought us to the current disaster,” Diab said.

In May 2018, Lebanon held its first parliamentary polls in nine years after the deeply divided legislature repeatedly extended its own term.

But the vote failed to shake up the multi-confessional country’s entrenched ruling class.

Diab formed his government of so-called technocrats in January to tackle the country’s worst economic crisis in decades.

But political leaders have been mired in deadlock despite repeated pledges of reform.

Meanwhile, Dozens of protesters stormed Lebanon’s foreign ministry building on Saturday amid anti-government demonstrations in the wake of the deadly Beirut explosion, eyewitness footage showed.

Earlier in the day, hundreds of Lebanese protesters flocked to the streets of Beirut on Saturday afternoon to demonstrate against the government's handling of the port explosion on August 4 that killed at least 158 people.

Demonstrators take part in a protest amid a cloud of tear gas fired by police, following Tuesday's blast, in Beirut, Lebanon August 8, 2020. (Reuters)
Demonstrators take part in a protest amid a cloud of tear gas fired by police, following Tuesday's blast, in Beirut, Lebanon August 8, 2020. (Reuters)

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with AFP

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