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Macron Warns Lebanese Leaders of Sanctions if Reforms Are not Prompt

Tuesday 1 September 2020

BEIRUT (Reuters) — French President Emmanuel Macron has warned Lebanese politicians they risk sanctions if they fail to set the nation on a new course within three months, stepping up pressure for reforms in a country collapsing under the weight of an economic crisis.

Visiting Lebanon for the second time in less than a month, Macron marked the country’s centenary by planting a cedar tree, the emblem of a nation that is facing its biggest threat to stability since the 1975-1990 civil war. He also visited Beirut last month in the immediate aftermath of the port explosion that killed more than 190 people and injured 6,000.

In an interview with POLITICO while travelling to Beirut on Monday, Macron said:

It’s the last chance for this system. 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.

Macron said he was seeking “credible commitments” and a “demanding follow-up mechanism” from Lebanon’s leaders, including a legislative election in six to 12 months. Should they fail to shift direction in the next three months, he told POLITICO, punitive measures could be imposed, including withholding bailout money and sanctions on the ruling class.

Hours before he arrived on Monday, a new prime minister was designated, Mustapha Adib, following a consensus among major parties forged under pressure from Macron over the weekend.

Macron said in Beirut that the international community must remain focused on the emergency in Lebanon for six weeks and said he was ready to help organise an international conference, in coordination with the United Nations, in mid to late October.


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