Frenchman Le Drian threatens to increase pressure on Lebanese politicians – fr

Frenchman Le Drian threatens to increase pressure on Lebanese politicians – fr

The French foreign minister threatened to step up pressure against Lebanese politicians whom he accused of having committed “collective suicide” by failing to pull the country out of its economic collapse.

During a visit to Beirut, Jean-Yves Le Drian told reporters on Friday that France, which has led foreign aid efforts in Lebanon, must act in the face of the political deadlock, months in the deadlock of cabinet negotiations.

He said if this persisted, there would be strict punitive measures, taken by France and potentially the EU, against Lebanese officials blocking progress. He did not respond to questions about who would be affected or when.

“What I can tell you is that for us the liability testing period is over. We have therefore decided to step up the pressure, ”said Mr. Le Drian. “We have started to take restrictive measures. Those who are targeted will know. “

France, the former colonial ruler in Lebanon, has grown frustrated after unsuccessful attempts to rally the country’s conflicting rulers to agree on a new government or initiate reforms to unlock much-needed foreign aid.

The currency has collapsed since 2019, the banking sector is paralyzed and a large part of the population is now poor.

Last month, Paris said it was taking action to restrict the entry of some Lebanese officials for blocking efforts to tackle the unprecedented crisis, which is rooted in decades of corruption and debt.

There has been no official announcement of the measures taken by France, or against whom, and the potential impact remains uncertain, as several Lebanese politicians have dual nationality.

Mr. Le Drian’s trip included meetings with activists as well as visits to schools and the port of Beirut, where a massive explosion last August killed more than 200 people. The interim government resigned following the devastating explosion.

The confrontation between President Michel Aoun and triple prime minister Saad Al Hariri, who was appointed to form a government in October, has since worsened.

Le Drian said he told Aoun, Hariri and longtime speaker of parliament Nabih Berri on Wednesday that he was there to support the Lebanese people and that the stalemate must end. “I am here to avoid this collective suicide orchestrated by some,” he said.


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