President Michel Aoun has said that “some time is needed” for results to start emerging from Lebanon’s probe into the devastating August 4 explosion in Beirut.
“We had the will to reach a quick result in the probe into the blast that occurred at Beirut port on August 4, but we eventually realized that things are intertwined and require some time,” said Aoun an in interview with French news channel BFMTV.
“All hypotheses are still on the table,” the president added.
The cause of the fire that ignited nearly 3,000 tons of ammonium nitrate stored at Beirut’s port remains unclear. Documents have emerged showing that the country’s top leadership, including Aoun, and security officials were aware of the chemicals that had been stored there for years.
The blast killed 180 people and wounded more than 6,000. At least 30 people are still missing.
Aoun said the probe is divided into three parts. The first aims to determine the circumstances surrounding the cargo, the second where it came from and who shipped it and the third to find who was responsible for handling and securing it.
When asked about what measures he took when he learned of the explosives in July, Aoun said the information came to him “very late,” but his military adviser was reassured that those with direct responsibility were handling the matter.
“They all were informed,” Aoun said, adding that he made sure those who could take measures to secure the area were in the loop.
Aoun said the FBI and French investigators were helping because “they, more than us, have the capability and ability to find out the details of what got the ship here, what is the source and who owns it.”
Aoun added that he asked for satellite images to determine if there was an air raid, saying he hasn’t ruled out the possibility of a foreign missile attack.
As for the formation of a new government, Aoun said he wants a government that would achieve quick results as to the much-needed reform.
“We’re greatly running behind on that,” he added.
Aoun also denied that Hizbullah is “obstructing reform” or “preventing the quick formation of a government.”
Asked about the public anger, Aoun said he shares the rage.
“They call me the father of the people,” he said. “I am one of them.”