France's 'enraged' Macron 'washes hands of Lebanon'

France's Macron 'washes hands of Lebanon', amid deadlock over Hariri premiership
3 min read
19 October, 2020
France's Emmanuel Macron has reportedly ended efforts to find a solution to Lebanon's financial and political crisis.
Macron has reportedly grown impatient with Lebanon's political class [Getty]

France President Emmanuel Macron has "washed his hands" of Lebanon and relegated the country down his list of foreign policy priorities, according to Lebanese newspaper The Daily Star.

Macron was reportedly "enraged" by the failure of Lebanon's political class to establish a new government, which he views as a "lack of seriousness" in resolving the country's long-standing economic crisis.

"President Macron has washed his hands of the Lebanese crisis, in a move reflecting his disappointment with Lebanon's political leaders' continued obstruction of the formation of a new government to enact urgent reforms," an unnamed Western diplomatic source told the daily.

"He has relegated to the French cell of former French ambassadors who served in Lebanon the job of following up on the implementation of the French initiative to save Lebanon."

Although a French financial rescue plan is still alive, a series of recent political set-backs in Lebanon have made the reforms, demanded by France, less likely.

President Michel Aoun recently postponed parliamentary talks on the appointment of a new premier, delaying for formation of a new government – a chief demand of France.

Former Prime Minister Saad Hariri, who France supports for the PM position, was tipped to take the post but has faced a lack of support from Lebanon's two main Christian-dominated parties, the Free Patriotic Movement and the Lebanese Forces.

Aoun said that "difficulties that need to be resolved" before parliamentary consultations take place - reportedly acting on FPM leader and son-in-law Gebran Bassil's request to delay the talks to appoint Hariri, The Daily Star reported.

When reports of the postponement emerged this weekend, France called on Lebanon's political class to "choose advancement rather than paralysis and chaos".

Despite Bassil's efforts, Hariri is expected to take the premiership this week.

"So far, the consultations will take place as planned on Thursday. Barring last-minute hitches, Prime Minister Hariri is expected to be designated as prime minister Thursday," the source told the Lebanese daily.

The Future Party said that Hariri will continue to push for the prime minister post.

"Prime Minister Hariri will not withdraw from the premiership race. He is resolved to form a small Cabinet of non-partisan specialists to implement the reform program agreed upon by Lebanese political leaders during their meeting with President Macron at the Pine Palace [1 September]," a source from the party told the Lebanese daily.

Lebanon's government, headed by Hassan Diab - who is now caretaker Prime Minister - resigned in August after the devastating Port of Beirut blast, which killed at least 200 people and laid waste to large parts of the capital.

The country has also been locked in a devastating financial crisis with a weak pound inflating the prices of goods and wiping out savings.

Banks have also been widely criticised for capital controls, which have restricted most account holders from accessing their savings or take a haircut to access funds.

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