French President Emmanuel Macron arrived Thursday in Lebanon, two days after Beirut was shattered by a freak explosion, to show support to the Lebanese people in a time of trauma.
With no fear whatsoever to mingle with crowds during this time of the pandemic, he toured the devastated sites, talked to the people at close proximity, and received hugs without restrain.
While touring what’s left of Gemmayze, he listened to the pleas of the people against their government, and this is what he answered:
“I am going to propose to them [the state officials] a new political pact this afternoon, and I will return September first, and if they don’t know how to hold it, I will take my responsibilities with you.”
He did meet with Lebanese politicians and propose the establishment of a new political pact. He gave them three weeks before he returns to Beirut to follow up on the developments.
In his televised speech, Macron addressed the Lebanese people the same evening before he left the country.
“Solidarity will continue… solidarity will take the form of medical care, food, building material to be able to rebuild the neighborhoods, …”
Regarding money donations, he said, “We have to avoid any form of embezzlement, any form of that money being used or misused.”
He called on Lebanese senior officials, Michel Aoun, Nabih Berri, Hassan Diab, and representatives of political factions to take responsibility. “It is time for them to act, they have to rebuild trust, confidence, and hope.”
“To be able to do that, it requires a new political order that goes beyond political groupings,” he said.
He reiterated the importance of reforms, the transparency of the banking system, and achieving IMF support.
“When times are tough, we will be there to provide assistance… But we will not write a blank check to a government that has no faith from its people.”
After meeting with Lebanese officials, Macron said he is hopeful that reforms can be made. He will return to Beirut on September 1st to ensure Lebanese politicians keep the pact, or France will have to take action into its own hand.
“I feel like Macron gave our politicians some homework and he’ll come back in 3 weeks to see the results…” someone said on Twitter.
In contrast to Macron’s 17-minute speech, lifting the spirits of a very demoralized people, Lebanon’s president offered a mere sentence to his shell-shocked nation today. What did he say? “France will help Lebanon a lot.”
But France has said time and time again it would not help us if we do not first help ourselves.
At midnight the French President posted on Twitter “بحبك يا لبنان” (“I love you, Lebanon”), repeating the words of support he said during his evening speech from the Al-Sanawbar Palace.