French President Emmanuel Macron yesterday condemned Lebanese leaders for allegedly serving their own interests and neglecting reforms offered by France.
At a news conference in the French capital Paris, Macron stated: “I am ashamed of Lebanon’s political leaders,” claiming that they “did not want, clearly and resolutely, to respect the commitments made to France and the international community. They decided to betray this commitment.”
Macron’s comments came after Lebanon’s Prime Minister-designate Mustapha Adib stepped down on Saturday after failing to form an adequate cabinet to lead the country’s reforms, as was laid out in a roadmap set out by France a month ago.
That plan, in which France obligated Lebanon to implement various reforms against corruption and to improve governance, was intended to get the country back on its feet following the catastrophic explosion in the capital Beirut in early August, preceded by an existing severe economic crisis.
Those reforms and the formation of a new government, however, were reportedly blocked by demands by Lebanon’s two primary Shia groups – Amal and Hezbollah – for greater roles within the cabinet. Lebanon subsequently missed France’s mid-September deadline to form the government, instead leaving the post for prime minister once again vacant.
Macron also directly targeted Hezbollah for the first time in the conference, questioning their role and intentions in the country which have so far been ambiguous. “Hezbollah can’t be at the same time an army at war with Israel, an unrestrained militia against civilians in Syria and a respectable party in Lebanon,” he said.
Macron further asked: “Is it really a political party or does it proceed just in a logic dictated by Iran, and its terrorist forces? I want us to see if in the next few weeks something is possible. I’m not naive.” He noted, however, that there was no evidence that Iran was interfering in his roadmap for reforms in Lebanon.
Calling the delay in reforms a betrayal of his initiative, he warned Lebanon’s leaders that they have up to four to six weeks to proceed with the plan before France and other international partners hold an aid conference around the end of October.
“This is a system of terror. This system is no longer advancing and a few dozen people are bringing down a country and its people,” Macron stressed. “The French initiative will persist. My commitment…will not falter.”