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Lebanon envoy resigns as Beirut blasts highlight gov’t ‘negligence’

August 7, 2020 at 2:09 pm

Damage to buildings after a fire at a warehouse with explosives at the Port of Beirut led to massive blast in Beirut, Lebanon on 5 August 2020 [Houssam Shbaro/Anadolu Agency]

Lebanon’s Ambassador to Jordan, Tracy Chamoun, has resigned in the aftermath of the massive explosion which rocked Beirut on Tuesday, killing at least 145 and injuring thousands more, citing government “negligence”.

In a televised address yesterday, Chamoun claimed she could “no longer tolerate” the government’s bureaucratic failings, saying: “I am announcing my resignation as an ambassador… in protest against state negligence, theft and lying.”

Chamoun, who has held the post of Ambassador to Jordan since 2017, said the explosions happened as a result of unchecked government negligence and corruption and had jolted her into action, sparking her resignation.

“The least that those in power can do today, after what happened, is to resign,” Chamoun said.

The explosions, which were caused by 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate that was stored unsafely in Beirut’s port for six years, have devastated the city, killing at least 150 and injuring thousands more.

Hundreds remain missing with dozens thought to be still stuck under the rubble. Only yesterday, after nearly 26 hours buried in debris, a young girl was pulled from the rubble by a search and rescue team who heard her cries.

READ: Macron vows to help mobilise aid for Lebanon after devastating blast, warns on reforms

Chamoun has since called for a snap election, which she claims is “inevitable” and for a new election law, according to a report by Anadolu Agency.

Her resignation came shortly after reports surfaced that 16 port authority employees, reportedly involved in the improper storage of the explosive substance, had been arrested. Officials, including the heads of Beirut’s port and customs, have also had their bank accounts frozen by Lebanon’s central bank.

Lebanon is one long tale of disaster and crisis - Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

Lebanon is one long tale of disaster and crisis – Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

Chamoun’s resignation is not the only one to come after Tuesday’s explosions, however. Lawmaker Marwan Hamadeh announced his resignation during an interview with Al Arabiya on Wednesday.

Hamadeh told the Dubai-based news outlet he was resigning because he no longer wanted to serve “institutions that watch the country’s devastation… under an ineffective presidency [and] a government that is a monster”.

Meanwhile, Lebanon’s Interior Minister Mohammed Fahmi has threatened to resign if the names of those responsible for Tuesday’s explosion are not published at the end of the five-day investigation deadline, Al-Joumhouria reported.

Fahmi told the daily, “maximum punishments must be taken against the perpetrators, or I go home… there is no compromise on this issue.”

READ: Lebanese begin clean up mission after blast