Lebanon PM to Call for Early Polls after Deadly Beirut Blast

Lebanon PM to Call for Early Polls after Deadly Beirut BlastHe spoke as security forces scuffled with anti-government demonstrators enraged over a deadly blast at Beirut’s port on Tuesday that killed more than 150 people and wounded at least 6,000.

The explosion hit the Lebanese capital as the country was already deep in an economic crisis that has left nearly half of the population living under the poverty line, up from a third before the crisis.

“We can’t exit the country’s structural crisis without holding early parliamentary elections,” Diab said in a televised address.

“On Monday, I will propose to cabinet a draft bill for early parliamentary polls,” he added, AFP reported.

In May 2018, Lebanon held its first parliamentary polls in nine years after the deeply divided legislature repeatedly extended its own term.

But the vote failed to shake up the multi-confessional country’s entrenched ruling class.

Shortly before Diab’s speech, a group of demonstrators took over the foreign ministry as a new headquarters of their uprising.

Diab formed his government of technocrats in January to tackle the country’s worst economic crisis in decades.

But political leaders have been mired in deadlock despite repeated pledges of reform.

Diab on Saturday gave the country’s ruling elite “two months to agree... and clear the way for the implementation of structural reforms,” threatening to step down if this deadline was not met.

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