BEIRUT: President Emmanuel Macron Sunday accused Lebanon’s leaders of betrayal over their failure to form a new government, but he gave them another four to six weeks to implement a road map proposed by France to bring the country back from the verge of chaos.
“They have betrayed the commitment [to form a government],” Macron told a news conference in Paris, proclaiming he was “ashamed” of the country’s politicians.
He accused Lebanese authorities of choosing “their partisan and individual interests to the detriment of the general interest of the country.”
However, Macron said he would give Lebanon’s leaders another four to six weeks to implement France’s proposed road map to save the country from a collapsing economy, but said that sanctions were not on the table for the time being.
“Sanctions are not out of the question,” he said, but affirmed that it is “not the way forward … right now we need political reform.”
“We called on Lebanon to seek to uphold the contract signed with France … And because they did not uphold it there will be … serious consequences,” Macron said.
“They [Lebanese authorities] have shown they are willing to throw the Lebanese people into chaos … None of them have been able to uphold the promises made in August and September,” Macron said.
The French president said he held all Lebanese authorities, including President Michel Aoun, responsible for implementing reforms, stressing that the political elite had committed “collective treason” by failing to form a government.
In a warning to Iran-backed Shiite Hezbollah, which has been accused of stalling the government formation process, Macron said the party should “not think it is more powerful than it is … It must show that it respects all the Lebanese. And in recent days days, it has clearly shown the opposite,” said Macron.
Macron said Hezbollah needed to clarify over the next few weeks whether it was a serious political force to help implement a road map for the country or a militia at the behest of Iran.
“There’s a question that needs to be asked to Hezbollah and ourselves. Is it really a political party or does it proceed just in a logic dictated by Iran, and its terrorist forces?” Macron told a news conference.
“I want us to see if in the next few weeks something is possible. I’m not naive, but we need to go to the end of this first road.”
Macron’s speech comes after Prime Minister-designate Mustapha Adib Saturday excused himself from the task of forming a new government as no breakthrough was achieved in a month-long formation impasse.
Government formation efforts hit a deadlock after leading Shiite parties the Amal Movement and Hezbollah rejected Adib’s proposal to rotate the sectarian leadership of the sovereign ministries, insisting the Finance Ministry be reserved for the Shiite sect.
Lebanon has been waiting for a new government since outgoing Prime Minister Hassan Diab resigned on Aug. 10, several days after the catastrophic Beirut Port explosion that killed more than 190 people and injured 6,500 more.
During Macron’s Sept. 1 visit to Lebanon, Lebanese politicians said they would form a new government within 15 days. That deadline passed more than a week ago, and French officials have repeatedly urged Lebanon’s political groups to work in unison to form a government and tackle the country’s worst ever economic crisis.
Macron during his visit warned that if leaders did not follow through on reforms within the deadline, including an audit of the Central Bank, that he could not “go back to the international community and approve aid if no progress is made.”
Source: The Daily Star