BEIRUT — On Wednesday, Lebanon’s leading Sunni grand mufti joined calls for early parliamentary elections and an international investigation into the explosion at the Beirut port, which he said deepened the country’s existential crisis.
At least 179 people were killed and 300,000 left effectively homeless when massive amounts of highly explosive material stored unsafely for years detonated early this month, destroying swathes of the city and prompting the government’s resignation amid mass protests.
“The existential threat to Lebanon requires urgent attention: An international investigation to delineate responsibilities and restore confidence,” said Lebanese Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdel Latif Derian.
The president must adhere to the will of the people and conduct parliamentary consultations to name a new prime minister, he added.
On Sunday, Lebanon’s top Christian cleric called for early parliamentary elections, saying Lebanon was today facing “its biggest danger.”
Leading politicians who were not part of the now-caretaker government, which had support from Hezbollah group and its allies, have called for an international investigation.
Nasrallah said his group would wait for results of an investigation by Lebanese government
Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said on Friday that his group would wait for results of an investigation by the Lebanese authority into the Beirut port explosion, but if it turns out to be an act of sabotage by Israel then it would “pay an equal price.”
The leader of the powerful Muslim group said in a televised speech that the two theories under investigation were that either an accident due to negligence or sabotage caused the explosion of warehoused ammonium nitrate.
Hezbollah was waiting for the Lebanese probe’s results and if it found “this was a terrorist sabotage operation, and that Israel had a role, then not only Hezbollah will respond. The entire Lebanese state … must respond,” he said. “Israel will pay a price the size of the crime if it committed it.”