The top UN official in Lebanon on Thursday called for restraint following deadly sectarian violence in the capital, Beirut, surrounding an investigation into the August 2020 blasts in the port area.
Clashes erupted after gunmen fired on hundreds of people heading to a protest against the lead judge in the probe, organized by the militant group Hezbollah and supporters, according to media reports.
At least six people were killed, and more than 30 injured. Nine suspects reportedly were arrested.
Lebanon continues to grapple with numerous challenges, including economic and financial meltdown, political deadlock, and the devastating long-term impact of the port explosions, which killed more than 200 people. Nobody has yet been found accountable.
UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon Joanna Wronecka issued a statement condemning Thursday’s violence.
Noting the “dangerous increase in polarization” around the investigation, she underscored the utmost responsibility of Lebanon’s leaders to 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,” said Ms. Wronecka.
Judicial independence key
“Now is the time for all sides to support judicial independence in the interest of the people,” she added.
The Special Coordinator also reiterated the UN’s unwavering support for the country and its people.