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Kataeb Bloc, Other MPs Resign from Parliament after Beirut Blast

Kataeb Bloc, Other MPs Resign from Parliament after Beirut Blast

Saturday, 8 August, 2020 - 11:30
Damage is seen inside the Lebanese parliament building after the Beirut blast. (AFP)

Lebanon’s Kataeb Party resigned Saturday in protest at the Beirut blast widely blamed on government negligence and corruption, bringing to five the number of MPs to quit since the disaster.


In an emotional speech during a funeral service for one of his top party officials who died in Tuesday's blast, MP Sami Gemayel announced his resignation and that of the two other MPs, Nadim Gemayel and Elias Hankash, from his bloc.


"Your comrades took the decision to resign from parliament," Gemayel said, addressing Kataeb secretary-general Nazar Najarian, one of the 154 confirmed victims of the explosion at Beirut port.


“The Kataeb MPs have decided... to move to confrontation for the sake of a free, sovereign, independent Lebanon,” he said. “I invite all honorable (lawmakers) to resign so that the people can decide who will govern them, without anybody imposing anything to them.”


Gemayel criticized the reactions of several top politicians who argued the international aid effort following the disaster would be an opportunity to break the diplomatic isolation of Lebanon.


"A new Lebanon must be born on the ruins of the old one, which you represent," he said, addressing the authorities at large and their clan leaders.


The party's three resignations from the 128-seat parliament come after those of Marwan Hamadeh from the party of Druze leader Walid Jumblatt and independent MP Paula Yacoubian.


Yacoubian told the CNN news channel that she was urging the entire parliament to stand down.


"As the MP of Beirut, I took the decision of resigning because I feel I'm a false witness in this parliament," she said.


"There's nothing we can do, the decision-making is outside the parliament," she said. "Everyone should resign."


Hezbollah, the only group which has kept its weapons since Lebanon’s 1975-90 civil war, and its allies hold a majority in the current 128-seat parliament, elected in 2018.


Lebanon's ambassador to Jordan also resigned in the aftermath of the blast, caused when fire spread to a depot where a huge amount of ammonium nitrate had been stored for years, unsecured.


Days before the blast, Nassif Hitti quit as foreign minister over a lack of political will to enact reforms to halt a financial meltdown which he warned could turn Lebanon into a failed state.


“I took part in this government to work for one boss called Lebanon, then I found in my country multiple bosses and contradictory interests,” Hitti wrote in his resignation statement. “If they do not come together in the interest of rescuing the Lebanese people, God forbid, the ship will sink with everyone on it.”


Early evidence shows top officials knew of its presence at the port and that safety procedures were knowingly and repeatedly violated.


The government has promised a swift and thorough enquiry but public trust is low that an investigative committee chaired by top officials will uncover the real culprits.


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