Beirut explosion: two more ministers walk as Lebanese government on brink

Marie Claude Najm is the third minister to resign since a massive explosion devastated Lebanon's capital

Lebanon's Justice Minister, Marie Claude Najm (left), has resigned following the Beirut blast. Reuters
Lebanon's Justice Minister, Marie Claude Najm (left), has resigned following the Beirut blast. Reuters

Lebanese Finance Minister Ghazi Wazni and Justice Minister Marie Claude Najm resigned on Monday, becoming the latest ministers to quit after the catastrophic explosion at the port of Beirut.

The pair, who resigned separately, followed Information Minister Manal Abdel Samad and Environment Minister Damianos Kattar, who walked out on Sunday.

Ms Najm's exit was anticipated as she has been a vocal supporter of protesters who demanded change in last year's uprising.

She was accosted on the street of Beirut last week by volunteers cleaning up from the disaster who chanted "revolution" and demanded her resignation.

Mr Wazni, put forward by Speaker Nabih Berri, was a former advisor to the parliament budget and finance committee.

So far four ministers have resigned and are yet to be replaced. If there are seven resigned ministers in Cabinet it will collapse.

FILE PHOTO: Lebanon's Finance Minister Ghazi Wazni gestures as he speaks during an interview with Reuters in Beirut, Lebanon March 12, 2020. REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir/File Photo
Lebanon’s Finance Minister Ghazi Wazni resigned in the wake of the Beirut blast. Reuters, file

Anger in the wake of the blast has brought people back to the streets on Beirut, months after a nationwide uprising in October.

Lebanese police used teargas to try to disperse rock-throwing protesters blocking a road near parliament in Beirut on Sunday in the second day of anti-government demonstrations.

Tuesday's explosion of more than 2,700 tonnes of ammonium nitrate killed 158 people and injured more than 6,000, compounding months of political and economic collapse and prompting calls for the government to quit.

A number of members of parliament have also quit and the country's senior Christian Maronite cleric, Patriarch Bechara Boutros Rai, said the Cabinet should resign as it cannot "change the way it governs".

"The resignation of an MP or a minister is not enough. The whole government should resign as it is unable to help the country recover," he said in his Sunday sermon.

Updated: August 10, 2020 04:29 PM

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