French President Emmanuel Macron visited Beirut Thursday—and after Tuesday's devastating explosion, more than a few Lebanese were ready for him to take over as their president. A petition circulating on Avaaz calling for the former colonial power to take charge of Lebanon for the next 10 years now has around 60,000 signatures, Deutsche Welle reports. "Lebanon’s officials have clearly shown a total inability to secure and manage the country," the petition states, denouncing corruption and other issues. "We believe Lebanon should go back under the French mandate in order to establish a clean and durable governance," it says. France ruled Lebanon from 1920 to 1945 under a post-WWI settlement.
With almost 150 people confirmed dead, around 5,000 injured, and hundreds of thousands homeless, Beirut residents are furious at authorities who ignored warnings about thousands of tons of highly explosive ammonium nitrate stored at a port building for years. During his visit Thursday, Macron—unlike Lebanese leaders—toured devastated neighborhoods, the AP reports. After a crowd gathered shouting "Revolution" and other slogans, he promised to push for a "new political pact" in the country and vowed that French aid "will not go into the hands of corruption." On Thursday night, after Macron departed, tear gas was fired as anti-government protesters clashed with Lebanese security forces, the BBC reports. (Read more Lebanon stories.)