Beirut explosion: Lebanon's Prime Minister Hassan Diab to propose early elections

Hundreds of angry protesters took to the streets on Thursday, storming the foreign, economy and environment ministries

epa08592092 Protesters take down a picture of Lebanese President Michel Aoun as they enter the foreign ministry headquarters during a protest in Beirut, Lebanon, 08 August 2020. People gathered for the so-called 'the Saturday of the hanging ropes' to protest against the political leaders and calling on those responsible over the explosion to be held accountable. Lebanese Health Ministry on 07 August said at least 154 people were killed, and more than 5,000 injured in the Beirut blast that devastated the port area on 04 August and believed to have been caused by an estimated 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate stored in a warehouse.  EPA/WAEL HAMZEH
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Lebanon’s Prime Minister Hassan Diab is to propose holding early parliamentary elections to government on Monday in an attempt to address the country’s political crisis, exacerbated by Tuesday’s huge explosion in Beirut.

He spoke as hundreds of protesters took to the streets, storming the foreign, economy and environment ministries as anger exploded over the deadly blast, which killed at least 158, made hundreds of thousands homeless and shocked the world.

In a short address on Thursday evening that many Lebanese TV stations chose not to broadcast, Mr Diab said he would introduce a draft bill proposing early elections.

“I am with the Lebanese people in wanting change,” he said.

“We can’t exit the country’s structural crisis without holding early parliamentary elections.”

He indicated he would stay in office for two months while the reforms are implemented, and said: “I want change like the Lebanese, too.”

On rumours that the country had rejected aid, he said: “This is not true. We need all the aid we can get.”

Mr Diab also called on the country’s political parties to put their disagreements aside and work together, because the country faced unprecedented crises on several fronts.

Holding early parliamentary elections was one of the chief demands of the nationwide protests back in October, which called for the removal of the political class.