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Aoun asks Hezbollah to cease boycott

Aoun asks Hezbollah to cease boycott

A picture shows the traffic in the area of Dora at the northern entrance of Lebanon’s capital Beirut on October 7. Photo: AFP

Lebanon’s president on Monday called for an end to a government boycott, implicitly criticizing his ally Hezbollah for blocking cabinet meetings since October over demands to fire a judge.

Lebanon’s fragile government, formed in September to stem the country’s worst financial crisis, has not met for more than two months, since October 12.

The Iran-backed Shiite movement Hezbollah and its Amal movement ally headed by parliamentary speaker Nabih Berri are spearheading the boycott.

They are demanding the replacement of judge Tarek Bitar who is investigating a blast that ripped through the capital Beirut in August 2020.

The explosion of a shipment of ammonium nitrate fertilizer stored haphazardly in a port warehouse for years killed at least 215 people and disfigured the capital.

Top political and security officials knew of the dangers posed by the shipment but failed to take action.

Efforts by Bitar to interrogate ex-ministers have been challenged with lawsuits.

However, Hezbollah and Amal accuse him of politicizing the probe.

“It is imperative that the cabinet meets and remedies… the problems in the Council of Ministers,” President Michel Aoun said in a televised speech.

“By which law, by which logic, by which constitution is the Council of Ministers blocked, asked to make a decision that does not fall within its powers,” he said.

Without naming them, he was referring to the demands from Hezbollah and Amal that cabinet deal with their demand to remove Bitar.