Thursday , September 24 2020

Lebanese minister resigns as global powers discuss aid


Lebanon’s minister of information resigned a day after deadly protests against the government’s role in last week’s devastating blast in Beirut, and hours before global leaders gathered to discuss aid to the country.
Information Minister Manal Abdel Samad submitted her resignation “in response to the public calls for change,” she said in a televised press conference on Sunday.
Nehmat Frem announced his resignation as a member of parliament also on Sunday, bringing the total number of lawmakers who resigned to six, according to Tele-Liban television.
Outrage over the August 4 explosion at the port is running high in Lebanon and beyond. It killed more than 150 people, injured 6,000 and destroyed large parts of the capital.
It also came at a time when Lebanon is reeling under its worst financial meltdown and political crisis in decades. Global leaders including US President Donald Trump are participating in Sunday’s conference.
The video-conference is co-hosted by French President Emmanuel Macron and the United Nations.
Macron said during a visit to Beirut he would make sure any aid goes directly to the Lebanese people and not into “corrupt hands.”
“The Lebanese authorities must now implement the political and economic reforms demanded by the Lebanese people and which will enable the international community to act effectively alongside Lebanon in the reconstruction process,” Macron said.
Participants in the conference include the UK, Germany, the European Union and the World Bank, a French official told reporters.
No estimate was given for the size of the aid package and the official said there would be “no blank check to the Lebanese government,” with pledges channeled through the EU, World Bank and UN to ensure that local NGOs and the Lebanese Red Cross gets funds.
Lebanon has arrested 20 people after the blast, which was caused by 2,750 tons of explosive materials left for six years at the country’s main port despite repeated safety warnings.
Anti-government demonstrators in Beirut managed to gain entry to the ministries of foreign affairs, economy and energy as well as the Association of Banks in Beirut.

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