Lebanon’s government stepped down on Monday night, less than a week after a massive explosion in Beirut killed more than 160 people and sparked days of violent protests.
Prime Minister Hassan Diab addressed the nation, announcing his resignation and that of his government in the wake of the blast, which he called a “disaster beyond measure.”
In an impassioned speech, Diab berated Lebanon’s ruling political elite for fostering what he called “an apparatus of corruption bigger than the state.”
“We have fought valiantly and with dignity,” he said, referring to members of his cabinet. “Between us and change is big powerful barrier.”
Diab compared Tuesday’s explosion to an “earthquake that rocked the country” prompting his government to resign. “We have decided to stand with the people,” he said.
Three cabinet ministers had already quit, along with seven members of parliament.
Violent protests erupted outside the prime minister’s office in the run-up to the scheduled speech on Monday evening.
Dozens of protesters hurled stones, fireworks and Molotov cocktails at security forces who responded with several rounds of tear gas. Some demonstrators tried to scale the blast walls outside Parliament Square.