Al-Rahi Urges Int'l Probe, Govt. Resignation, Early Polls
Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi on Sunday called on the entire government to step down over the August 4 explosion, a blast widely seen as shocking proof of the rot at the core of the state apparatus.
Al-Rahi joined the chorus of people pressing Prime Minister Hassan Diab's cabinet to step down over a blast he said could be "described as a crime against humanity."
"It is not enough for a lawmaker to resign here or a minister to resign there," al-Rahi said in a Sunday sermon.
"It is necessary, out of sensitivity to the feelings of the Lebanese and the immense responsibility required, for the entire government to resign, because it is incapable of moving the country forward."
Al-Rahi echoed calls by Diab for early parliamentary polls -- a long-standing demand of a protest movement that began in October, demanding the removal of a political class deemed inept and corrupt.
He also joined world leaders, international organizations and the angry Lebanese public by pressing for an international probe into an explosion authorities say was triggered by a fire in a port warehouse, where a huge shipment of hazardous ammonium nitrate had languished for years.
President Michel Aoun on Friday rejected calls for an international investigation, which he said would "dilute the truth." He reiterated his stance on Sunday, noting that an international probe would “waste time” and urging Lebanon’s judiciary to conduct a swift investigation.
Information Minister Manal Abdel Samad quit Sunday in the first government resignation since the catastrophic blast.
MP Neemat Frem also announced his resignation as Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea said his party is trying to secure enough parliament resignations in order to force early elections as soon as possible.
At least six lawmakers have quit since the explosion.