Macron warns of consequences if reforms not carried out as vowed in Lebanon

Beirut, Sep 1 (efe-epa).- French President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday said that Lebanese leaders have vowed to form a new government within two weeks and to carry out reforms within eight weeks, and he threatened that there would be consequences if they do not keep their promises.

“All political forces have committed to forming a government (to run the country till the elections) in the next 15 days,” Macron said during a press conference in Beirut.

The government is expected to begin to carry out reforms over the course of six to eight weeks, a road map that will conclude in the second half of October.

It will be then that France will co-organize a second donor conference with the United Nations to provide international aid for Lebanon in its rebuilding process.

However, he warned “there is no blank check” if Lebanese leaders did not commit to the reforms, adding that there will be “consequences” if they do not follow through on their commitments.

Macron made these remarks during his second visit to Lebanon in less than a month in the wake of the 4 August explosion of some 3,000 tons of ammonium nitrate warehoused in the city’s port that killed 190, injured more than 6,500 and left some 300,000 people homeless.

The blast cost the cabinet of Hassab Diab their positions following anti-government rallies that lasted for days.

Just a few hours before Macron arrived in Beirut on Monday night, the Lebanese Parliament selected Mustapha Adib to become the new prime minister.

Adib, a Sunni Muslim according to Lebanon’s confessional system, was the confidant of former Prime Minister Najib Mikati and served as the latter’s advisor from 2000 to 2011, when he was appointed his chief of staff.

The vote designating Adib to serve as premier did not meet the expectations of those who have been calling for the departure of the ruling elite since the huge rallies last October that forced Saad Hariri to resign after 12 days.

Dozens of people took to the streets near Parliament to express their discontent with the prime minister-designate. Protesters threw stones at the security forces, who responded with tear gas, according to local media.

The clashes left 21 injured, one of whom needed hospitalization while the rest could be treated with first aid at the scene, the Lebanese Red Cross said.

The violence came on the 100th anniversary of the declaration of Greater Lebanon as a League of Nations mandate to be administered by France after World War One, an occasion the Middle Eastern country is marking amid the worst economic crisis since the 1975-1990 civil war.

To mark the occasion, Macron – who upon his arrival met with popular Lebanese singer Fairuz, one of the region’s living legends – planted a cedar tree, the symbol of Lebanon.

“President Emmanuel Macron plants a cedar in the Jaj reserve. The first cedar planted in the second century. Many emotions,” the French ambassador to Lebanon, Bruno Foucher, posted to his official Twitter account.

After the ceremonial planting of the tree, Macron met with President Michel Aoun and representatives of the United Nations, civil society and, starting at noon, with assorted political and religious figures. EFE-EPA


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