Lebanon Minister Resigns as Global Powers Gather for Aid

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By Farah Elbahrawy

(Bloomberg) —

Lebanon’s minister of information resigned a day after deadly protests against the government’s role in last week’s devastating blast in Beirut, and hours before global leaders gathered to discuss aid to the country.

Information Minister Manal Abdel Samad submitted her resignation „in response to the public calls for change,“ she said in a televised press conference on Sunday. Nehmat Frem announced his resignation as a member of parliament also Sunday, bringing the total number of lawmakers to did so to six, according to Tele-Liban television.

Outrage over the Aug. 4 explosion at the port is running high in the Lebanon and beyond. It killed more than 150 people, injured 6,000 and destroyed large parts of the capital. It also came at a time when Lebanon is reeling under its worst financial meltdown and political crisis in decades.

Global leaders including U.S. President Donald Trump will participate in Sunday’s conference. The video-conference will be co-hosted by French President Emmanuel Macron and the United Nations. Macron said during a visit to Beirut on Thursday he would make sure any aid goes directly to the Lebanese people and not into „corrupt hands.“

Lebanon has arrested 20 people after the blast, which was caused by 2,750 tons of explosive materials left for six years at the country’s main port despite repeated safety warnings.

Anti-government demonstrators in Beirut on Saturday managed to gain entry to the ministries of foreign affairs, economy and energy as well as the Association of Banks in Beirut. The army evacuated them at the end of a long day of street confrontations in which dozens of protesters were injured.

Lebanon’s foreign minister had resigned prior to the explosion last week, warning that the country risked to become „a failed state.“ The government, backed by the pro-Iranian militant Hezbollah group and its allies, has struggled to carry out reforms demanded by the international community as the price of a bailout.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.


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