Lebanon must fight corruption after Beirut blast, says German foreign minister

A view of the damaged port following a massive explosion, in Beirut, Lebanon August 12, 2020. REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

BEIRUT (Reuters) – Germany’s foreign minister said on Wednesday that Lebanon needed a government able to fight corruption and enact reforms as he toured Beirut port, scene of the devastating explosion that has kindled protests and led the government to resign.

The Aug. 4 blast at a warehouse storing highly explosive material killed at least 172 people, injured some 6,000, left around 300,000 without habitable housing and wrecked swathes of the Mediterranean city, compounding a deep economic and financial crisis.

“It is impossible that things go on as before,” Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said. “The international community is ready to invest but needs securities for these investments. It is important to have a government that fights the corruption.

“Many in Europe have a lot of interest for this country. They want to know that there are economic reforms and good governance,” Maas added.

The resignation of Prime Minister Hassan Diab’s government has deepened uncertainty. His cabinet’s talks with the International Monetary Fund for a bailout had already stalled over internal differences about the scale of financial losses.

Forming a new government could be daunting amid factional rifts and growing public discontent with a ruling class that many Lebanese brand as responsible for the country’s woes.

The foreign ministers of Russia and Saudi Arabia agreed on Wednesday on the importance of creating “beneficial external conditions” for the formation of a new Lebanese government, the Russian foreign ministry said.

Humanitarian aid has poured in but foreign countries have made clear they will not provide funds to help pull Lebanon from economic collapse without action on long-demanded reforms to tackle systemic graft, waste, mismanagement and negligence.

More Stories