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France's Macron draws up 'roadmap' of Lebanon reforms needed to unlock aid

France has taken the reigns in organising conditional aid for Lebanon [Getty]

Date of publication: 27 August, 2020

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Emmanuel Macron demands a central bank audit, a new government, and early elections in Lebanon in order for it to access the foreign aid it has been pledged
French President Emmanuel Macron has drawn up a checklist of political and economic reforms that Lebanon must undertake in order to access a foreign aid package it hopes will lift it out of its multiple crises.

The two-page "concept paper", seen by Reuters, was delivered to Beirut by the French ambassador, a political source told the news agency.

The list's requirements include an audit of the central bank, the establishment of an interim government tasked with enacting reforms, and holding legislative elections within a year.

"The priority must go to the rapid formation of a government, to avoid a power vacuum which will leave Lebanon to sink further into the crisis," the document says.

The paper also outlines four areas in need of urgent attention, comprising of humanitarian aid and the Covid-19 response, reconstruction following the explosion on 4 August, political and economic reforms, and early parliamentary elections.

It also stipulated that the country must progress in talks with the IMF, overseen by the UN, to access international aid pledged to Lebanon this month. An independent investigation into the cause of the port explosion must also be held.

Lebanon's current government, which is in a caretaker role after being forced to resign following the port disaster, reached an impasse in discussions with the IMF over a bailout, as it failed to implement the necessary reforms.

The government's tenure lasted only seven months. It was blamed for complicity and inaction over the port explosion,  which killed at least 180 people, injured some 6,000 and wrought destruction across the capital.

Mass protests against the political class erupted following the disaster, calling for the end to endemic corruption and mismanagement that has led to a paralysing financial crisis.

Macron is due to make a second visit to the Lebanese capital since the explosion, arriving on Monday.

The French leader will take part in a full day of meetings on Tuesday in a bid to boost reconstruction efforts and also look at political issues as Lebanon searches for a new government, the presidency said.

Macron visited Beirut on 6 August, less than 48 hours after the explosion.

On 9 August, he chaired a video conference that saw world leaders pledge more than 250 million euros ($295 million) to the crisis-hit country.



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