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Lebanese Parliament Affirms Post-blast State of Emergency

Lebanese lawmakers, meeting in full session on Thursday for the first time since a devastating August 4 explosion destroyed or damaged much of Beirut, have approved a state of emergency that gives the military sweeping powers. The move was initiated by the government of Prime Minister Hassan Diab before it resigned on Monday over the blast, which took place at the city’s port, leaving at least 170 people dead and hundreds of thousands at least temporarily homeless. It required parliamentary approval before becoming official. The state of emergency gives the Lebanese military the power to declare widespread curfews and censor media reports, as well as to try civilians before military tribunals. Rights groups have lodged protests over the matter, saying such wide-ranging powers could easily be exploited at such a sensitive time. Prior to the explosion, which is being blamed on the negligent storage of highly volatile ammonium nitrate, Lebanon had been enduring massive anti-government protests over policies covering everything from the economy, which is in shambles due to a crushing foreign debt, to the coronavirus pandemic.