Macron threatens Lebanon with sanctions

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Middle East Desk
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BEIRUT: 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 for the second time in less than a month, Macron marked Lebanon’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.
“It’s the last chance for this system,” Macron told POLITICO in an interview while traveling to Beirut 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.” 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.
Lebanese politicians, some of them former warlords who have overseen decades of industrial-scale corruption, face a daunting task with an economy in meltdown, a swathe of Beirut in tatters after the Aug. 4 port blast and sectarian tensions rising. 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 he would use his weight to press for the formation of a new government. Without reforms, funds pledged at a 2018 donor conference in Paris would not be released, he said.
Macron visited Beirut in the immediate aftermath of the port explosion that killed more than 190 people and injured 6,000. Macron said in Beirut that the international community must stay focused on the emergency in Lebanon for six weeks and that he was ready to help organize an international conference, in coordination with the United Nations, in mid to late October.