Beirut blast: Lebanon information minister quits in first government resignation over explosion

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A handout picture shows Lebanon's Prime Minister Hassan Diab (L) and Minister of Information Manal Abdel Samad during an official meeting at the Grand Serail government headquarters in the capital Beirut, on April 24, 2020.
A handout picture shows Lebanon's Prime Minister Hassan Diab (L) and Minister of Information Manal Abdel Samad during an official meeting at the Grand Serail government headquarters in the capital Beirut, on April 24, 2020.
PHOTO: Dalati and Nohra/AFP
  • Lebanon's information minister Manal Abdel Samad has stepped down in the wake of the deadly Beirut port blast that killed nearly 160 people.
  • At least six lawmakers have quit since the explosion, but Samad marks the first government resignation.
  • The head of Lebanon's Maronite church has called on the entire government to step down.


Beirut – Lebanon's information minister Manal Abdel Samad on Sunday quit in the first government resignation since a deadly port blast killed more than 150 people and destroyed swathes of the capital.

Apologising to the Lebanese public for failing them in a statement carried by local media, she said: 

After the enormous Beirut catastrophe, I announce my resignation from government.

The head of Lebanon's Maronite church meanwhile called on the entire government to step down over the 4 August explosion, a blast widely seen as shocking proof of the rot at the core of the state apparatus.

Lebanese protesters enraged by the blast vowed to rally again after a night of street clashes in which they stormed several ministries.

Maronite patriarch Beshara Rai joined the chorus of people pressing Prime Minister Hassan Diab's cabinet to step down over a blast he said could be "described as a crime against humanity".

"It is not enough for a lawmaker to resign here or a minister to resign there," Rai said in a Sunday sermon.

Calls for early parliamentary polls

"It is necessary, out of sensitivity to the feelings of the Lebanese and the immense responsibility required, for the entire government to resign, because it is incapable of moving the country forward."

Rai echoed calls by Diab for early parliamentary polls – a long-standing demand of a protest movement that began in October, demanding the removal of a political class deemed inept and corrupt.

He also joined world leaders, international organisations and the angry Lebanese public by pressing for an international probe into an explosion authorities say was triggered by a fire in a port warehouse, where a huge shipment of hazardous ammonium nitrate had languished for years.

President Michel Aoun on Friday rejected calls for an international investigation, which he said would "dilute the truth".

At least six lawmakers have quit since the explosion.

Under increased pressure from the street and foreign partners exasperated by the leadership's inability to enact reforms, Diab's government is fraying at the edges.

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