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Lebanon's Maronite Patriarch saddened by leaders' neglect of people

Lebanon's Christian Maronite patriarch Bechara Boutros al-Rahi speaks to the press following a meeting with Lebanese President Michel Aoun, at Baabda Palace in Beirut, Lebonan on 29 August, 2018 [Lebanese Presidency Handout/Anadolu Agency]
Lebanon's Christian Maronite patriarch Bechara Boutros Al-Rahi in Beirut, Lebonan on 29 August, 2018 [Lebanese Presidency Handout / Anadolu Agency]

Lebanon's Maronite Patriarch Bechara Al-Rai said he was deeply saddened by the ruling elite's neglect of the Lebanese people and their pain.

"We are deeply hurt by the political authority's neglect of its people and control of our country and the powerful people's relentlessness to thwart the government formation, after they succeeded in forcing the Prime Minister-designate to resign, despite the friendly initiative which was kindly proposed by French President Emmanuel Macron," Al- Rai said during Mass yesterday.

Al-Rai also called to preserve Lebanon's neutrality and distance it from regional conflicts.

He added that two months have passed since the Beirut port blast on 4 August, yet the forensic investigation has not yet yielded any results.

The explosion happened when 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate, stored unsafely in Beirut port's warehouse 12 for six years prior to the explosion, ignited. Nearly 200 people were killed in the blast which injured thousands more and made at least 300,000 of Beirut residents homeless.

READ: Lebanese patriarch warns of 'multiple dangers' without a government 

In the aftermath of the blast, letters written by Daher and sent to Lebanon's "judge of urgent matters" were unearthed, detailing how the custom chief was aware the highly explosive substance was stored unsafely in the port.

In letters sent in 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017, Daher warned of the "dangers if the materials remain where they are affecting the safety of (port) employees", according to the Associated Press (AP).

It was later revealed both Aoun and caretaker Prime Minister Hassan Diab were warned by security officials the dangerous substance was stored in the port but failed to take action.

In a secret letter to the pair sent on 20 July, Aoun and Diab were warned of the security risk the chemical posed. The pair admitted they knew the substance was stored in the port but claimed the port was not under their authority when asked why they took no preventative action.

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