United Nations chief Antonio Guterres expressed concern on Hezbollah and called for “free, fair, transparent and inclusive” elections for the people of Lebanon.
The country is set to go to the polls on May 15 for the first time since the 2020 Beirut port explosion, an incident which ignited protests, sectarian violence between members of Lebanon’s political factions, and backlash against the government’s corruption.
A subsequent investigation into the blast was stymied by Hezbollah after a number of officials accused the probe’s leader, Judge Tarek Bitar, of bias and called for his removal after Bitar sought to interrogate the group’s allies.
Guterres also said that Hezbollah’s hold over “sophisticated military capabilities outside the control of the government of Lebanon remains a matter of grave concern,” according to The Washington Post (WaPo).
He urged Beirut to “increase its efforts to achieve a monopoly over the possession of weapons and the use of force throughout its territory” and called for other nations to encourage Hezbollah to transition from an armed faction into “a solely civilian political party,” WaPo reported.
“I continue to urge the government and the armed forces of Lebanon to take all measures necessary to prohibit Hezbollah and other armed groups from acquiring weapons and building paramilitary capacity outside the authority of the state.”