As Lebanon continues to suffer in the aftermath of the August 4 explosion in the port of Beirut, France should use its considerable leverage in Lebanon to ensure that there is an independent international investigation into the blast. Attempts by local politicians to assign an inquiry to local institutions are unacceptable, due to repeated failures by Lebanese authorities to investigate serious past government failings and generalized public distrust of government institutions.
The judiciary lacks the required credibility to conduct a transparent investigation on its own. Political interference in the judiciary has been customary for years, including in instances documented by Human Rights Watch, and initial evidence suggests that some judges were aware of the ammonium nitrate negligently stored in the port that caused the explosion.
President Emmanuel Macron was prompt to arrive on the scene and promise international assistance. After walking through a gutted neighborhood and greeting affected people, he was remarkably direct in calling for “profound change” leading to a “new political order,” alerting Lebanese politicians that “the time for responsibility has arrived.”
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