The Lebanese Govt Resigned Over Beirut Blast. Can We Expect the Same Accountability of Our Netas?


The Lebanese Govt Resigned Over Beirut Blast. Can We Expect the Same Accountability of Our Netas?

Illustration: Reynold Mascarenhas

On August 4, a massive explosion ripped through the streets of Beirut, the capital city of Lebanon. Over a week after the blast, its aftershocks are still being felt, at least in Lebanon’s political arena. The fresh wave of outrage against the administrative ineptitude that caused the blast in a residential area and left 160 people dead and thousands injured has led to the Prime Minister and his entire Cabinet stepping down, effectively ending their term in the Lebanese government.

Yesterday, Prime Minister Hassan Diab made a televised speech, where he followed in the steps of three ministers who had already resigned. Addressing the citizens, Diab said, “I declare today the resignation of this government. May God protect Lebanon.” In his address, Diab placed the blame on institutional corruption that has been entrenched in Lebanon for decades. “I have discovered that corruption is bigger than the state and that the state is paralysed by this (ruling) clique and cannot confront it or get rid of it,” he said.

The entire Lebanese government resigning over a disaster like the Beirut blast is a reminder that politicians have just one job – to serve the people – and if they cannot fulfil that job, then stepping down is in the greater interest. Protests against the government in Lebanon have been taking place since October last year, with the blast proving to be the last straw for the citizens of Lebanon. Holding the government accountable to such a high degree is an achievement for Lebanese democracy, and a timely reminder of the power of protest.

In India, 2020 has also witnessed some truly horrific disasters caused by mismanagement and inefficiency. The Vishakhapatnam gas leak and Assam oil well fires are two of the most glaring examples of instances where companies were allowed to cut corners, leading to tragedy. However, public officials haven’t shown the same kind of contrition being displayed by the former Lebanese PM this week.

While Beirut’s blast was a tragedy, its aftermath has shown that even disaster can lead to a positive change.