During the international aid conference held Wednesday to secure support for Lebanon, French President Emmanuel Macron criticized Lebanon’s ruling class and announced that he would visit the crisis-ridden country later in December.
“I will return to Lebanon this month to pressure the political class and politicians must form a government to conduct reforms or else there will not be international aid,” Macron said at the opening of the virtual humanitarian aid conference.
“We won’t abandon the need to carry out reforms nor the Beirut port investigations,” he added. Macron has visited Lebanon twice since the August 4th explosion and urged its officials to implement serious reforms to recover from the crisis.
During the conference, which comes months after the deadly explosion that ripped through the Lebanese capital on August 4th, the French President called on the Lebanese authorities to speed up the government formation and to abide by the French reform initiative.
A new Cabinet has yet to see light in Lebanon, more than a month after Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri promised a speedy government formation that would put Lebanon on the reform track, in accordance with the said initiative.
“The commitments… have not been respected,” Macron said as he criticized the Lebanese authorities’ lack of progress, promising to maintain pressure on the collapsing country’s politicians.
Addressing the conference’s main objective, Macron, alongside U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, also announced the launch of a new fund operated by the World Bank, the U.N., and the European Union.
The relief fund is dedicated to the provision of food, healthcare, education, and other forms of support for Lebanon, including the reconstruction of the Port of Beirut, which was destroyed during the blast.
“We can, together, help the Lebanese people move beyond the emergency phase and onto the path for longer-term recovery and reconstruction,” Guterres affirmed.
The fund will channel aid directly to the Lebanese people.
However, Macron stressed that the provision of short-term emergency assistance “won’t replace the commitment of Lebanese political forces and institutions to form a government as quickly as possible and implement a roadmap for reforms.”
Without a credible government, he reiterated, billions in long-term international support would not be unlocked by Lebanon.