Beirut blast: 'Revolution!' - Angry crowds urge Macron to help bring change as death toll hits 145

0:00
play article
Subscribers can listen to this article
  • French President Emmanuel Macron toured Beirut's streets and addressed angry crowds demanding an end to a corrupt regime.
  • Before the Beirut port blast, Lebanon was already grappling with an imploding economy.
  • Macron promised to send more medical and other aid to Lebanon.


BEIRUT – French President Emmanuel Macron toured Beirut's shattered streets on Thursday, two days after a giant explosion, with crowds demanding the end to a "regime" of politicians they blame for corruption and dragging Lebanon into disaster.

"I see the emotion on your face, the sadness, the pain. This is why I’m here," he told one group, shaking their hands on roads strewn with rubble and flanked by shops with windows blown out after Tuesday's blast that killed 145 people and injured 5 000.

Macron, wearing a black tie in mourning and flanked by security guards, promised to send more medical and other aid to Lebanon, while those around him chanted "Revolution" and "The people want the fall of the regime".

"But what is also needed here is political change. This explosion should be the start of a new era," Macron said, making the tour shortly after arriving on the first visit to Lebanon by a foreign leader since the blast.

The president has said he would deliver "home truths" to a government that France and other Western donors have said must reform the country's politics and the economy.

'I understand your anger'

One man told Macron: "We hope this aid will go to the Lebanese people not the corrupt leaders."

Before the Beirut port blast, whose explosive force was registered hundreds of kilometres away, Lebanon was grappling with an imploding economy – its banks in crisis, currency in freefall and mountain of debts climbing.

"Mr President, you're on General Gouraud Street, he freed us from the Ottomans. Free us from the current authorities," said one person among the crowd who gathered around him, appealing for help from Lebanon's former colonial power.

Some of the crowd, who were filmed by a pool report in a predominantly Christian district of the capital, shouted: "Mr Macron, free us from Hezbollah," referring to the Iran-backed Shi'ite Muslim group, a powerful player in a nation where political loyalties often run along sectarian lines.

After visiting a pharmacy damaged by the explosion, Macron told the crowd: "I understand your anger. I am not here to write a blank cheque ... to the regime."


We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24
Lockdown For
DAYS
HRS
MINS
Voting Booth
When planning for the Black Friday sales do you:
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
Save, research and plan ahead, preparing to make the most of it?
8% - 906 votes
Wait and see what looks like a good deal on the day?
14% - 1704 votes
Have no interest in spending more money this year?
78% - 9379 votes
Vote
ZAR/USD
15.21
(+0.91)
ZAR/GBP
20.31
(+0.88)
ZAR/EUR
18.08
(+0.71)
ZAR/AUD
11.19
(+0.24)
ZAR/JPY
0.15
(+1.06)
Gold
1807.64
(-1.54)
Silver
23.20
(-1.30)
Platinum
960.00
(+3.66)
Brent Crude
45.51
(+2.15)
Palladium
2340.00
(+0.48)
All Share
57761.92
(+1.08)
Top 40
53049.43
(+1.09)
Financial 15
11674.99
(+2.97)
Industrial 25
80126.12
(+0.26)
Resource 10
52568.48
(+1.54)
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes morningstar logo