The Lebanese parliament is expected to hold an open session, starting Thursday at noon, to discuss the government’s performance in wake of the catastrophic blast at Beirut port last week.
Information Minister Manal Abdel Samad and Environment Minister Damianos Kattar handed in their resignations, however, putting the government in an already tighter spot than it already is. A number of lawmakers have also resigned in wake of the blast, which is widely blamed on the authorities’ incompetence, negligence and rampant corruption that had already plunged Lebanon into an unprecedented economic crisis.
The government is scheduled to hold an emergency meeting on Monday. Prime Minister Hassan Diab had also chaired a meeting at the government palace and reportedly urged other ministers who intend to resign to wait until Monday’s meeting.
Ministers were allegedly planning on a mass resignation on Monday, but Diab’s meeting prior had dashed these plans.
Informed sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that contacts from outside the cabinet had thwarted attempts for the mass resignation.
The sources confirmed that Hezbollah had intervened from the very beginning to thwart such a move. Head of the Free Patriotic Movement, MP Gebran Bassil had also acted against it. Other parties that opposed the resignation are the Marada Movement of Suleiman Franjieh and Diab’s own ministers.
Pressure on the government to resign began on Saturday as tens of thousands took to the streets to condemn the authorities over the explosion. The resignation of lawmakers also added to that pressure.
Imad Hoballah, a minister who is loyal to Hezbollah, justified the choice to remain in his position, claiming there was no alternative to fill the vacuum.
The sources added that Diab had stated that resignation would mean that the government was running away from the investigations into the explosion.
The PM is heading a probe into the blast, which killed at least 150 people, wounded over 5,000. displaced 300,000 and devastated large swathes of the capital.
“The government must tackle the calamity,” stressed Diab, according to the sources. The PM also said that the resignation will only lead the country towards the unknown and it could do without that now amid the current crisis.
Kattar’s resignation clearly demonstrated that Diab’s comments had fallen on deaf ears.
Should the cabinet fail to resign by Thursday, some lawmakers may use the open parliament session to call for a no-confidence vote, informed political sources told Asharq Al-Awsat.
Should it come down to that, the majority of MPs will not vote to keep the government in power, they revealed.