Al-Rahi Urges Removal of Arms Depots from Residential Areas
Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi on Sunday called for the removal of “all arms and explosives depots” from Lebanon’s residential areas, in the wake of the Beirut port blast that killed dozens, wounded thousands and devastated swathes of the capital.
“Let Lebanese authorities consider the Beirut port disaster an alarm bell and let them raid all arms and explosives depots and warehouses that exist illegally in the residential neighborhoods of cities, towns and villages,” al-Rahi said in his Sunday Mass sermon.
“Some Lebanese regions have turned into fields of explosives which we do not know when they will blow up or who will detonate them,” the patriarch warned.
“The presence of these depots represents a serious and dangerous threat to the lives of citizens, which do not belong to any person, group, party or organization,” al-Rahi went on to say.
He accordingly called on authorities to “removes these arms and explosives so that citizens can feel safe, at least inside their homes.”
Official negligence and corruption have been blamed for the detonation of around 2,700 tons of ammonium nitrate stored unsecured for around seven years at Beirut port. Ammonium nitrate has a dual use as fertilizer or in explosives.
Turning to the issue of the formation of a new government, al-Rahi lamented that the political parties “are approaching the formation process from an electoral and partisan angle.”
“They are raising conditions and counter-conditions,” he decried.
The patriarch also said that “the people and the world are awaiting the formation of a national and economic rescue government, quickly and without delay for any reason, on the condition that it be formed of (political and economic) rescuers.”