The Beirut blast that led to 135 fatalities and over 5,000 severe injuries was allegedly caused by 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate that was unsafely stored for over 6 years. The magnitude of the blast was so incredible that if it happened in Kuala Lumpur, it could demolish the entire capital and cause damage in its neighbouring cities.
Since then, citizens of Lebanon have been protesting in anti-government demonstrations to call for political and economic reforms.
Amidst the outrage from the public, Lebanon’s PM Hassan Diab decided to step down to show solidarity towards the public. Coinciding with his resignation, three other ministers decided to follow suit.
In a televised announcement, PM Diab highlighted the long overdue need to address the entrenched corruption, incompetence and mismanagement of the Lebanese government. He said,
“I have discovered that corruption is bigger than the state and that the state is paralysed by this (ruling) clique and cannot confront it or get rid of it.”
The reason for this is that the State Security had already compiled reports stating the dangers of storing the hazardous ammonium nitrate at the port for such a long period of time. Despite the raise of concerns, it fell upon deaf ears until 24 hours prior to the tragic explosion that caused over 300,000 Lebanese to become homeless.
Public Works Minister, Michel Najjar, claimed that the news regarding the material reached him only a day before the blast and by then, there was not enough time to take action.
The catastrophe catalysed an investigation into the parties involved in the negligence that led to the Beirut catastrophe.
Currently, the Supreme Judicial Council, which is the top judicial body in Lebanon, has been referred to the case. A total of 20 people have been detained including the head of Lebanon’s custom department, his predecessor as well as the head of the port.
With the PM resigning, a new cabinet will emerge.
In order to ensure the new government will rectify the country’s current corruption and negligence, several world leaders and international organisations have decided to hold the new government accountable by withholding the USD300 million in funds allocated for the Lebanese humanitarian aid. For the release of these funds, the new Lebanese government must stay committed to political and economic reform to ensure such abysmal negligence will not happen again.
As a parting message, PM Diab thrice repeated the mantra, “May God protect Lebanon.”
For more news, choose JUICE.