A New Lebanese Prime Minister is Elected Following the Explosion in Beirut’s Port
On the 4th of August 2020, there was an explosion in Beirut, the capital city of Lebanon. More than 200 people were killed, over 6000 were wounded and hundreds of thousands were left homeless.
The explosion was devastating, and destroyed a lot of buildings. Some of those buildings were homes, hospitals and businesses. One of the buildings that was demolished in the explosion was a warehouse that supplied 85% of the entire country’s supply of grain.
The head of the UN food agency said he's "very, very concerned" because Lebanon could run out of bread in 2 and a half weeks because 85% of the country's grain comes through Beirut's devastated port.
The explosion was not an attack, but happened as a result of chemicals and fertilizer that had been left in a warehouse in the city’s port since 2013. The austerity measures taken by the Lebanese government meant that there was never any money to deal with the problem. Many Lebanese people are angry, because these dangerous chemicals and fertilizer should have been disposed of properly.
Many people blame the government, who they view as corrupt. The disaster triggered anti-corruption protests across the city. Within five days of protests, the protestors took over Lebanon’s foreign ministry building, the ministry of energy, the ministry of economy, the ministry of environment, and the bank association building. Protestors removed any portraits of the president and destroyed them.
The protests succeeded in getting the Prime Minister, Hassan Diab, to announce his resignation less than a week after the explosion, on Monday 10th of August 2020.
So where does this leave Lebanon now?
The country was not in a good position prior to the explosion in August. Lebanon was already undergoing a massive financial crisis, which was worsened by the coronavirus outbreak.
Before the explosion, the Lebanese currency lost 70% of its value (it has now lost 80% of its value), 75% of the population were in need of aid, 33% unemployed, and 15% -- one million people -- were below the poverty line.
A new prime minister, Mustapha Adib, was chosen in the final week of August. He has spoken about constitutional reforms that need to be made in order to make Lebanese society more equal. The French president, Emmanuel Macron, has pledged to help Lebanon by offering financial aid and encouraging other countries to do so too. He has visited the country twice since the explosion. Macron has made it clear that any French bailout will only happen if Lebanon implements widespread reforms. He said there needs to be a new era of transparency and an end to corruption.