BEIRUT — The day before the second anniversary of the Aug.4, 2020 port blast, the Free Patriotic Movement Wednesday blamed some politicians, the Higher Judicial Council and its head for “handcuffing” the head of the port explosion probe judge Tarek Bitar, “who should be the source of solution and not part of the problem.”
Here’s what we know:
• In a statement, FPM called for transparency in “ the investigation and … ending the obstruction of the courts of cassation.” Bitar is currently suspended from his role as the head of the investigation due to multiple requests for his removal from high-ranking politicians called in for questioning. The Higher Judicial Council has the authority to decide on the removal requests against Bitar, but is currently awaiting three appointments. In June, 2020, President Michel Aoun refused to sign judicial appointments submitted by then-Justice Minister Marie-Claude Najm. The appointments remain unsigned to this day.
• The FPM also criticized the detention of those arrested after the port explosion without trial as “unjust,” saying “it is time to end this attack on people’s freedom.” Former Customs Director Badri Daher, who was arrested after the port blast, is affiliated with the FPM.
• The party said that “the Prime Minister-designate [Najib Mikati] is responsible for belittling the constitution and ignoring the situation of the country by refusing to do what is necessary to form a government.” “This deliberate obstruction of government formation is a crime against the Lebanese people, whose [bank] deposits were stolen” and can no longer afford “bread and basic necessities.”
• The statement also called on Parliament to quickly approve laws needed “to sign a final agreement with the International Monetary Fund.” In April, Lebanon signed a preliminary agreement with the IMF to unlock $3 billion of aid on the condition of key reforms.