Lebanon ministers: Cabinet will stay to resolve crisis

Two key Lebanese ministers insist that the cabinet of Prime Minister Hassan Diab will remain in office to resolve the situation in the aftermath of a huge explosion that hit Beirut Port.

Labor Minister Lamia Yammine and Minister of Industry Imad Hoballah made the assertion on Sunday amid apparent attempts by some foreign powers and media outlets to meddle in the country’s internal affairs following the explosion.

The Tuesday blast, caused by explosion of some 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate at the port, destroyed the country’s main grain silo, killing at least 158 people and injuring some 6,000 others.

Speaking after a ministerial meeting chaired by Diab, Yammine affirmed that the cabinet had no intention to step down.

“Our government is strong. We continue our efforts and are committed to carrying out our responsibilities towards the people,” she said.

His remarks came after Environment Minister Damianos Kattar and Information Minister Manal Abdel Samad’s resigned on Sunday.

Hoballah separately posted a tweet, saying that some were calling for the legal investigations into the blast.

“But we will not resign…and not succumb to pressures and blackmailing,” he said, adding the cabinet will stand by its duty to enable reforms in the country and identify those responsible for the explosion.

Thousands rallied across the capital on Saturday and Sunday, accusing authorities of incompetence as they occupied many ministries and tried to break into the parliament. Televised footage showed a fire breaking out at the entrances to the parliament square in central Beirut.

Hoballah had earlier said that those invading the ministries were trying to destroy the documents and evidence of corruption.

Foreign intervention

He also said those demanding that the government and ministers resign were in fact seeking to “lead Lebanon to nowhere” and lay the groundwork for foreign interference in Lebanon.

Last month, the minister had complained about pressure being exerted on the country by the United States. Washington, he said, is pressuring “Arab countries not to cooperate with the Lebanese government so it can impose political agendas in favor of Israel.

Israel launched two wholesale wars against Lebanon in the 2000s. The aggression was confronted successfully by the Lebanese resistance movement, Hezbollah.

Following the explosion, the US that has never brooked Hezbollah’s inclusion in the Lebanese defensive structure, backed “legitimate calls” for “reforms” in the country.

The immediate aftermath of the blast was also followed by a visit by French President Emanuel Macron in what was widely denounced as a throwback to France’s colonial rule over Lebanon and a flagrant instance of foreign meddling.

During an emergency donor conference that was called by Paris after the blast, the French president controversially called for “political” reforms in Lebanon.

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