Lebanese President Michel Aoun on Friday ruled out resigning in the wake of last week’s disastrous explosion at Beirut port, in which 178 people were killed and some 6,000 injured.
Prime Minister Hassan Diab and his government resigned on Monday amid growing anger on the streets, but Aoun told French broadcaster BFMTV that if he followed suit it would cause a “power vacuum.”
The current situation in Lebanon made it impossible to organize elections “that would enable a genuine representation of the people,” Aoun said in an interview, speaking mostly through a translator.
The blast, which caused massive damage to buildings in the capital, was apparently caused by tons of ammonium nitrate stored in the port without proper safety measures.
Aoun, however, said that “all hypotheses” were still open.
The president accepted that there was public anger, and said he could understand it although it hurt him. “I am a son of the people. They call me the father of the people,” he insisted.
Aoun denied that the high-profile visit two days after the explosion by French President Emmanuel Macron, or the latter’s plan to return on September 1 to check up on progress in reforms, amounted to outside interference in Lebanese affairs.
Those providing aid had “the right to give advice so that the work is done properly,” he argued – though, he said, foreign countries must not get involved in the designation of the next government.