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Protesters Set Fires, Clash With Police In Lebanon’s Protests

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Protesters Set Fires, Clash With Police In Lebanon's Protests

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On August 9th, Lebanon has seen protests erupt as a result of anger over the explosion in Beirut.

The crisis is being heavily influenced by the fact that due to the government allegedly being so corrupt that international aid is promised “directly to the population.”

International leaders joined a virtual donor conference led by France and the United Nations in the aftermath of the devastating explosion at the Beirut port, pledging nearly $300m in humanitarian assistance that will be “directly delivered to the Lebanese population”.

The promise of the leaders came as protesters clashed with security forces who used tear gas to disperse them for the second day in a row.

Representatives of Britain, the European Union, China, Russia, Egypt and Jordan took part in the conference. Iran and Israel were not represented.

Lebanon’s Information Minister Manal Abdel Samad announced her resignation, saying Prime Minister Hassan Diab’s government failed to live up to the aspirations of the people.

“I want to apologise to the Lebanese people, whose aspirations we were unable to fulfil due to the difficulty of the challenges facing us,” she said in a short statement from the ministry.

Abdel Samad said she had tried in Diab’s government to address the demands of an unprecedented uprising that rocked the country last October, “but change remained far”.

Abdel Samad added the government did not live up to her aspirations and she was resigning out of respect for those killed, injured and missing after the massive Beirut explosion earlier this week, “and in response to the people’s demand for change”.

She, despite being a minister in the government, entirely distanced herself from any of the responsibility and blamed it on the others.

Shortly after, Environment Minister Damianos Kattar also resigned from his post.

“In light of the enormous catastrophe … I have decided to hand in my resignation from government,” Kattar said, adding he had lost hope in a “sterile regime that botched several opportunities”.

Various members of parliament are also resigning.

“Enough is enough … I represent the entire Lebanese nation according to the constitution, and this means that I represent the martyrs and the wounded who fell in the Beirut port massacre and those who are still missing,” Michel Moawad said in a series of tweets.

“I’ve listened to your tears and to your pain … You [the people] are the source of authority,” he wrote.

On August 8th, Prime Minister Hassan Diab announced parliamentary elections.

It’s essentially a time to rethink allegiances in politics and attempt to get a piece of the reform pie.

The crisis caused by the explosion that killed at least 158 people is being used as a way to pressure Lebanon into changes, presumably ones that make it reduce the influence Hezbollah has in the country, as well as the influence Iran has, directly and indirectly.

Kristalina Georgieva, the head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), tied any loans or assistance for Lebanon was tied behind a government reform.

“Current and future generations of Lebanese must not be saddled with more debts than they can ever repay,” she said during the pledging conference.

That is why she said the IMF requires “debt sustainability as a condition for lending”, adding that “the financial system must be solvent”, too.

US President Donald Trump called for Lebanon to conduct a “full and transparent investigation” into the huge explosion that hit Beirut, and expressed his support for protests demanding reform in the country.

Trump “urged the Government of Lebanon to conduct a full and transparent investigation, in which the United States stands ready to assist,” according to the White House. He also participated in the donor conference.

“The President called for calm in Lebanon and acknowledged the legitimate calls of peaceful protesters for transparency, reform, and accountability,” the White House added.

The US Embassy expressed support of “peaceful protests.”

Peaceful protesters stormed and vandalized government buildings.

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