NEW YORK: UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon Joanna Wronecka expressed deep concern over the people killed during clashes in Beirut on Thursday and condemned the use of “armed violence outside of state authority.”
In a statement, she underscored “the need for restraint, for maintaining calm and stability and ensuring the protection of civilians.”
At least six people were killed and dozens injured in Lebanon’s capital amid a protest organized by Hezbollah and its ally Amal movement against the judge who is investigating last year’s Beirut port explosion.
Tensions are high around the probe. Protesters accused Judge Tarek Bitar of being politically biased, but many Lebanese, including victims’ families, see him as an incorruptible judge, taking on a corrupt political elite.
Wronecka noted the “dangerous increase in polarization” in the context of the Beirut port explosion investigation. She also called on the Lebanese leaders to shoulder their responsibilities and place the interests of the country first at this critical juncture.
“Lifting Lebanon out of its current crisis and moving forward on reforms requires the efficient functioning of the state’s legislative, executive and judicial institutions,” Wronecka said.
“Now is the time for all sides to support judicial independence in the interest of the people.”
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres reiterated the need for “an impartial, thorough and transparent investigation” into the explosion on Aug. 4, 2020, when some 2,750 tons of highly explosive ammonium nitrate blew up in the port of Beirut after being inadequately stored there since 2013. The blast killed more than 200 people and wounded thousands.
Guterres called on “all concerned to immediately cease acts of violence and to refrain from any provocative actions or inflammatory rhetoric,” spokesperson Stephane Dujarric told reporters in New York.