French President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday warned that international aid for Lebanon would not be released unless a series of reforms were underway by October.
Ahead of meetings with Lebanese President Michel Aoun and the country’s main political parties, Macron again insisted on the need for reform of electricity, banking, justice, and public contracts.
With Lebanon suffering for several months from serious power outages, Macron denounced corruption in the energy sector as well as other spheres.
“Everything is ready, but political will is needed,” he said on a visit to Beirut port, the scene of last month’s devastating blast that cost more than 180 lives.
Macron said he was putting his “political weight” behind a timetable for reforms, with a first deadline in October as a “follow-up” mechanism.
Apart from urgent humanitarian aid in response to the August 4 explosion, longer-term aid would not be released unless the reform process was underway by then, he said.
Macron said that the nomination of Lebanon’s ambassador to Germany, Mustapha Adib, to head a new government, was just “the first step of the next phase.”
“Will it result in action? I am not naive,” he said.
Despite public anger, the Lebanese people had democratically elected their current leaders, he argued.
The reforms could lead to elections “in six to 12 months … which will reveal the anger of the people, and bring about a new political reality if the people so wish,” he said.
Earlier, POLITICO magazine cited Macron as saying that sanctions could be imposed against the Lebanese political leadership if serious reforms were not implemented.
Macron earlier marked Lebanon’s centenary by planting a cedar tree at the Jaj cedar reserve in Jbeil, north of Beirut.
The French air Force also displayed the Lebanese flag with their smoke trails red, white and green.
The French president assured the Lebanese after planting the cedat tree that France will stand by Lebanon and its people during this period of crisis.
“I say it on behalf of the French: we will always be on the side of the Lebanese people,” the French president wrote on Twitter.
“Freedom, dialogue, coexistence are longstanding values in Lebanon,” Macron wrote after he planted a Cedar tree in a forest in an area north of Beirut to mark the 100th anniversary of Lebanon’s creation.
He said Lebanon would be “re-born.”
Lebanon is celebrating the anniversary of the creation of Greater Lebanon when colonial France drew up the boundaries of the future state. Lebanon gained independence from France in 1943.