Environment Minister Says Protests ‘Directed at Wrong Person’

Environment Minister Mohammed al-Mashnouq refused on Wednesday to budge on his decision to remain in office despite protests calling for his resignation over his failure to resolve the waste crisis.

Following talks with Prime Minister Tammam Salam at the Grand Serail, al-Mashnouq said the protests are “directed at the wrong person.”

He stressed that he would remain in office. “I am part of this government. I don’t mind discussing (with protesters) any other issue.”

On Tuesday, “You Stink” movement activists briefly took over the environment ministry in downtown Beirut and demanded al-Mashnouq’s resignation.

They have so far staged three large protests over the government’s failure to deal with the garbage crisis that erupted following the closure of Lebanon’s largest landfill in Naameh on July 17.

Skirmishes also erupted Tuesday outside the environment ministry as dozens of protesters outside pelted security forces with bottles and stones.

The protests have attracted supporters from across Lebanon’s political and religious divides, reflecting the growing frustration with the corrupt political class.

But al-Mashnouq said his conscience was clear and hoped the waste crisis would be resolved.

He reiterated that several political parties were to blame for the failure to resolve the problem.