Lebanon's Kataeb Party says its three MPs resigning from parliament in wake of Beirut blast

BEIRUT (Reuters) - Lebanon’s Kataeb Party, a Christian group which opposes the government backed by the Iran-aligned Hezbollah, announced on Saturday the resignation of its three lawmakers from parliament.

The announcement by party leader Samy Gemayel brings to five the number of MPs planning to step down in the wake of the catastrophic explosion at the port of Beirut on Tuesday.

Gemayel made the announcement during the funeral of a leading member of the group who died in the blast, which destroyed parts of the Lebanese capital.

“The Kataeb MPs have decided... to move to confrontation for the sake of a free, sovereign, independent Lebanon,” he said. “I invite all honourable (lawmakers) to resign so that the people can decide who will govern them, without anybody imposing anything to them.”

The two other MPs who announced their resignation are Marwan Hamadeh, a Druze, and Paula Yacoubian, one of Lebanon’s six female lawmakers.

Hezbollah, the only group that has kept its weapons since Lebanon’s 1975-90 civil war, and its allies hold a majority in the current 128-seat parliament, elected in 2018.

The Kataeb, which played a major role in the civil war, is among the parties and politicians accusing Hezbollah of forming a state within the state, and blaming the Shiite group for the weakness and dysfunctionalties of official institutions.

Many Lebanese are angry with the government over its handling of the massive explosion, which killed more than 150 people, injured 5,000 and left up to 250,000 without habitable homes.

Reporting by Laila Bassam; Writing by Maher Chmaytelli; Editing by Gareth Jones and Frances Kerry