Beirut (dpa) - After growing anger about a possibly avoidable explosion with many dead and injured in Beirut, the government of Lebanon is increasingly wavering. Two ministers resigned from office on Sunday.
Prime Minister Hassan Diab tried to prevent further cabinet members from resigning before a meeting planned for today, as the German press agency learned from government circles. Hundreds of people protested for the second day in a row in anger over the massive explosion less than a week ago.
Hours after Information Minister Manal Abdel Samad also resigned Environment Minister Damianos Kattar on Sunday, government circles said. The government of Lebanon is dissolved if more than a third of the 30 cabinet members resign. That would be the case if five other ministers resign. Diab wanted to propose to the cabinet in a meeting on Monday that new elections be held. The next election in the Mediterranean country would actually not be due until 2022.
Many Lebanese have lost confidence in the political elite after the explosion, with more than 150 dead and over 6,000 injured. They suspect that the detonation, which may have caused large amounts of unsafe ammonium nitrate to explode, was caused by gross negligence. They also complain that elections have so far changed little in terms of the real balance of power in the country, which is strongly divided among denominational groups. According to eyewitnesses, hundreds demonstrated on Sunday. Some threw stones at the parliament building. The security forces used tear gas.
Important aid funds were raised for the victims of the explosion, which left up to 300,000 people homeless. At an international donor conference, 252.7 million euros in emergency aid came together, as reported by circles of the French presidential office after a video switch. French President Emmanuel Macron, together with the United Nations, chaired the virtual meeting, which was also attended by US President Donald Trump and representatives from more than 30 other states and organizations.
Federal Foreign Minister Heiko Maas (SPD) had previously spoken of more than 200 million euros in aid on ZDF. "Germany alone will contribute an additional 20 million euros to alleviate the greatest need that is currently in Beirut," Maas told the broadcaster. It was overwhelming how many states took part. France is providing 30 million euros in aid. "The future of Lebanon is now being decided," Macron said.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) also wants to help Lebanon with a rescue package, but is demanding political agreement on comprehensive reforms. The financial organization is ready to redouble its efforts, said IMF boss Kristalina Georgieva in the switch. The EU announced that it would increase its emergency aid to 63 million euros. Independently of this, Maas had announced a German emergency aid package worth ten million euros. Pope Francis also called for international aid for Lebanon.
© dpa-infocom, dpa: 200810-99-105830 / 2