Hassan Diab says entrenched interests stymied reform efforts adding that he does not want to stay on as caretaker leader.
Beirut, Lebanon – Lebanon’s outgoing Prime Minister Hassan Diab says he fears for his life after trying – and largely failing – to implement a host of anti-corruption measures during his short period in office.
Asked during a briefing with journalists on Tuesday if he feared for his life, Diab replied, after a long pause: “I guess I do.”
He did not provide any evidence of threats on his life.
The question came after Diab spoke about repeated attempts by various interest groups to thwart what he characterised as reform efforts by his government, which secured the confidence of parliament in February but resigned less than six months later after the deadly explosion at Beirut’s port.
Lebanon has a history of politically motivated assassinations, with dozens of officials and journalists attacked since the early 2000s, mostly for opposing the Syrian regime – a power broker that deployed its army in Lebanon for 30 years until 2005 – and Hezbollah, the regime’s strongest ally in Lebanon.
Most prominent was the 2005 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, after he sought to contain Syria’s influence.
Diab – a little-known academic until he was picked by Hezbollah and its allies to head a government in February – is no Hariri. But he has cast himself as a man confronting a deeply entrenched “regime of corruption” in Lebanon.
He is – by his own account – an insider-outsider prime minister who is dead-set on fighting the corruption of the ruling class, even though that same ruling class chose him for the job.
Diab frequently took the so-called “regime of corruption” to task for plundering state coffers and ultimately creating the conditions that led to the August explosion that killed about 200 people and injured more than 6,500 others. But he never publicly named those who constitute that regime and still declines to do so.