‘Step down or hang’ | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, August 09, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 01:40 AM, August 09, 2020

‘Step down or hang’

Lebanese vent rage against their leaders after blast

As Beirut mourned its dead and grappled with the scale of rebuilding after this week's massive blast, some Lebanese angered by their government's response called on foreign states yesterday to topple their leaders and run the country.

Several hundred protesters began gathering in Martyrs' Square in the city centre for a demonstration to criticise the government's handling of the biggest explosion in Beirut's history. The blast in the port killed 154 people, injured 5,000 and destroyed a swathe of the city.

The protesters had mock wooden scaffolds with nooses, and one placard read: "Step down or hang".

Some residents, struggling to clean up shattered homes, complain the government they see as corrupt - there had been months of protests against its handling of a deep economic crisis before this week's disaster - has let them down again.

"We have no trust in our government," said university student Celine Dibo as she scrubbed blood off the walls of her shattered apartment building. "I wish the United Nations would take over Lebanon."

Several people said they were not at all surprised that French President Emmanuel Macron had visited their gutted neighbourhoods near the epicentre of the blast this week while Lebanese leaders had not.

"We are living in ground zero. I hope another country would just take us over. Our leaders are a bunch of corrupt people," said psychologist Maryse Hayek, 48, whose parents' house was destroyed in the explosion.

Lebanon's Kataeb Party, a Christian group that opposes the government backed by the Iran-aligned Hezbollah, announced on Saturday the resignation of its three lawmakers from parliament.  That brought to five the number of lawmakers who quit since the blast.

The prime minister and presidency have said 2,750 tonnes of highly explosive ammonium nitrate, which is used in making fertilisers and bombs, had been stored for six years without safety measures at the port warehouse.

President Michel Aoun said on Friday an investigation would examine whether it was caused by a bomb or other external interference.  21 people had been detained so far, he added.

Officials have said the blast could have caused losses amounting to $15 billion. That is a bill that Lebanon cannot pay after already defaulting on a mountain of debt - exceeding 150% of economic output - and with talks stalled on a lifeline from the International Monetary Fund.

A virtual international donor conference launched by Macron, and in which US President Donald Trump and other top leaders will take part, is scheduled for today.

Stay updated on the go with The Daily Star Android & iOS News App. Click here to download it for your device.

Grameenphone:
Type START <space> BR and send SMS it to 22222

Robi:
Type START <space> BR and send SMS it to 2222


Banglalink:
Type START <space> BR and send SMS it to 2225

Leave your comments

Top News

Top News

Top