Emmanuel Macron back in Lebanon to increase pressure on his leaders

The French president travels to Lebanon on Monday night for a 24-hour visit. A visit during which he calls on Lebanese leaders to set up a unity government to implement structural reforms that Paris deems necessary.

Almost a month after the explosion that destroyed Beirut, Emmanuel Macron went to Lebanon again, Tuesday 1your September, to further increase pressure on Lebanese leaders, that he calls for the establishment of a unity government and a reform program.

“Emmanuel Macron will do what is needed and put pressure on the reform program in Lebanon to be implemented,” an Elyos source told Reuters on Friday (August 28).

During his first visit, on August 6, the French president, by responding to Lebanese during a walk in the streets, condemned the corruption of the leaders of Cedar’s country. “I understand your anger. I am not here to support the regime. I am here to help you as a people. I guarantee you that this support will not fall into the hands of corruption,” he said.

>> To read: Humanitarian aid, corruption, demands “change” … What Emmanuel Macron said in Beirut

Since then, in the face of street anger, which takes the political class to account for the explosion, Hassan Diab’s government resigned on August 10. But it took three weeks for Parliament’s consultation, which should lead to the appointment of a new prime minister, to finally be organized on Monday 31 August.

The French president’s visit to Beirut was preceded by several messages from Paris. Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian thus warned the Lebanese leaders, Thursday 27 August, on RTL. “The risk today is Lebanon’s disappearance. So these measures must be taken,” he insisted.

“This country is on the brink. It is half the population living below the poverty line, there is a helpless youth, there is a situation of unemployment that is frightening, an inflation that is difficult,” he calculated.

A list of reforms to be implemented will be sent to Beirut

France coordinated an international videoconferencing conference with the UN on 9 August, in which participants pledged € 250 million in aid, of which € 30 million came from Paris.

But Hexagon does not intend to “sign an empty check” in Lebanon, as Emmanuel Macron declared on August 6 in Beirut and as Jean-Yves Le Drian repeated on Thursday. The French ambassador to Lebanon therefore sent a document to Lebanese President Michel Aoun and House Speaker Nabih Berri outlining the measures that will be taken for the country’s future.

This two-page text refers in particular to a revision of the central bank, the appointment of a provisional government that can quickly implement reforms and early legislative elections within a year.

>> To view on France24.com: “In Beirut, schools destroyed by the double explosion will not open at the beginning of the school year”

This document “addresses the main points of the proposals already presented in the framework of the Cedar Conference and the International Support Group for Lebanon on 11 December 2019,” commented a source in the Presidency of the French Republic. “This document renews France’s readiness to support Lebanon in this context. It is not a roadmap at all, it is informal.”

While the Lebanese state is in debt and the pound has fallen for months, the Lebanese government has failed to reach an agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) despite months of discussions, especially due to disagreements over reforms and the extent of the losses incurred. the banking sector must bear.

“The priority must be given to the rapid formation of a government in order to avoid a power vacuum that would allow Lebanon to sink deeper into the crisis,” the document reads.

He cites four areas that require emergency action: humanitarian aid and the response to the Covid-19 pandemic. post-disaster reconstruction on 4 August; political and economic reforms and finally early legislative choices.

A complex process for appointing the Prime Minister

But the Lebanese political situation is very complex. To date, no consensus has emerged on the name of the future Prime Minister due to deep differences between traditional political forces.

The parliamentary blocs and the independent deputies must follow each other at the presidential palace from Monday morning to announce their preferences. But the choice of powerful pro-Iranian Hezbollah and its allies, who control the majority in parliament, will be decisive. Hezbollah has already announced that it was against a “neutral” government and that it favored a cabinet that brought together all political forces.

>> To see in France 24: “THE INTERVIEW – Rémy Rioux: ‘In Lebanon, the political system is blocked and fails to come out in the short term.”

Parliamentary speaker and leader of the Shiite Amal movement, Nabih Berry, an ally of Hezbollah, for his part proposed the return of Saad Hariri, who had resigned in October 2019 under pressure from the streets.

However, the former Prime Minister announced on August 25 that he would not agree to return and condemned “certain political forces still in a state of serious denial of Lebanon’s reality”, in a reference to the presidential party, Free Patriotic Current, and its two Shiite allies, Amal and Hezbollah, who had formed it, resigned the government of Hassan Diab.

With AFP and Reuters