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Macron says Lebanon leadership has 'last chance' to fix system

Macron's visit has brought praise and criticism [Getty]

Date of publication: 1 September, 2020

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Macron's visit to Lebanon has been seen as a vital to the country's economic and political future.
France's President Emmanuel Macron has warned that Lebanon's establishment faces a "last chance" to avoid deeper political and economic catastrophe, according to a media report.

"It's the last chance for this system," Macron told POLITICO on Monday.

"It's a risky bet I'm making, I am aware of it… I am putting the only thing I have on the table: my political capital."

The magazine said that Macron warned during the interview that if political divisions in Lebanon are not fixed then the country's leadership could face sanctions. 

Macron said he is looking for "credible commitments" and a "demanding follow-up mechanism" from politicians to deal with the crisis, including new elections within a year.

His visit to Lebanon on Monday is seen as vital to the emergence of a cash injection that the country urgently needs to stay afloat and to help rebuild Beirut after a devastating blast at the city's port last month.

On Tuesday, the French president announced that an aid summit for Lebanon will take place in Paris next month.

Lebanese activists have held protests during Macron's visit, urging a major shake-up of the country's political class which has been mostly unchanged since the civil war.

There has been anger about the replacement Prime Minister Mustapha Adib, who was announced on Monday just hours before Macron landed in Beirut.

His appointment, activists say, is proof that there will no major political changes despite Macron's high-profile visit to Beirut and promises from politicians.

Some activists have demanded that International Criminal Court judge Nawaf Salam be appointed as PM, although Macron said he lacks the political support in parliament needed to make him an option as premier.

"If I imposed Mr. Nawaf Salam ... we kill his candidacy because we put him in a system in which the parliament will block everything," Macron said, despite later denying France is interfering in Lebanese politics.

Macron again fended off criticism that France is enforcing its will on Lebanon and denied he played a role in the appointment of Adib, a former diplomat and academic who is seen as part of the establishment.

"I don't know him, I didn't choose him, and it’s not my job to interfere or approve," he said.
The French president also said he would not get embroiled in Lebanon's delicate political makeup, where Hezbollah are seen as kingmakers in deciding a future government.

"If we fight force with force, that's called escalation," he told POLITICO.

"Don't ask France to come wage war against a Lebanese political force... It would be absurd and crazy."

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