European Council President Charles Michel visited Beirut on Saturday as thousands of Lebanese took to the streets in anti-government protests following this week’s port explosion that killed more than 150 people.
Michel met with Lebanese political leaders — President Michel Aoun, Prime Minister Hassan Diab and Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri — and called on them to work on reforms amid growing anger at the country’s ruling elite over the blast.
“All political forces should work together for the common good of the people, implementing reforms to give hope for a better future,” Michel tweeted.
Earlier on Saturday, he tweeted that Europe would help the country rebuild after meeting rescue teams and expressed his shock at the scale of the devastation.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen had previously pledged over €33 million for “first emergency needs, medical support and equipment, and protection of critical infrastructure” in Lebanon.
Meanwhile, thousands of Lebanese protestors took to the streets to vent their fury over the deadly port explosion. Many in the country blame the catastrophe on the country’s elite, accusing them of corruption and mismanagement; before the blast, Lebanon was already struggling with a severe economic and political crisis.
Riot police fired tear gas at protestors who tried to break through barriers near the country’s parliament, Reuters reported.
Michel’s visit comes after French President Emmanuel Macron traveled to the Lebanese capital on Thursday. U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson also spoke to President Aoun to discuss the country’s recovery needs on Saturday.
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