The United States imposed sanctions on the former minister and current leader of the Free Patriotic Movement, Gebran Bassil, Reuters reported on Friday, citing the US Department of the Treasury.
In a statement, the US Department of the Treasury said that the sanctions target Bassil “for his role in corruption in Lebanon. E.O. 13818, which builds upon and implements the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act, targets corruption and serious human rights abuse around the world.”
“The systemic corruption in Lebanon’s political system exemplified by Bassil has helped to erode the foundation of an effective government that serves the Lebanese people,” said Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin.
“This designation further demonstrates that the United States supports the Lebanese people in their continued calls for reform and accountability,” he added.
The sanctions imposed on Bassil by the Trump administration come amid an ongoing tight presidential race between the current president, Donald Trump, and Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden.
Bassil commented on the news in a tweet, saying, “Neither the sanctions frightened me nor the promises tempted me. I will not turn against any Lebanese… And I will not save myself to destroy Lebanon.”
A previous report suggested that Bassil, a prominent political ally of Hezbollah, and the head of the largest Christian political party in Lebanon, would be targeted by US sanctions for helping Hezbollah.
Since the appointment of Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri to form a new government, Bassil has been accused of obstructing the Cabinet formation that is currently the central debate in Lebanon’s political space.