Macron presses Lebanese politicians as cabinet deadline

PARIS / BEIRUT (Reuters) – French President Emmanuel Macron is pressuring Lebanese politicians to make a new government this week and promises to oust the country from its biggest crisis since the 1975–1990 civil war, his office. Said on Sunday.

FILE PHOTO: French President Emmanuel Macron observed when he would attend a press conference at the official residence of the French ambassador to Lebanon, Beirut, Lebanon, on 1 September 2020.

Lebanese leaders, during their visit, promised Macron on 1 May that they would form a cabinet of technocrats without party allegiance in about two weeks to end the economic crisis worsened by a major explosion in four-week-old Beirut.

An official source said that Mustafa Adeeb for the post of Prime Minister was expected to present his cabinet plan for President Michel Aoun on Monday, which would try to expedite a process in which ministries generally But takes several months.

The French President’s Office said, “The (French) President has continued his dialogue with various Lebanese political players.”

Berry said Macron held a phone conversation on Saturday with Speaker of Parliament Nabih Berri, a top politician, in an effort to remove an impediment to the post of finance ministry, which is traditionally controlled by Shiites .

Berry, head of the Amal movement, an ally of the politically powerful and heavily armed Shia group Hezbollah, said in a statement on Sunday that his group opposed the way the cabinet was formed and did not want to join. But he said that he would cooperate in stabilizing the nation.

Berri cited a concern about the lack of consultation and that he resorted to “foreign leverage” in the formation of the cabinet. The same phrase was used on Sunday by another Hezbollah colleague, Christian politician Gabran Basil.

The Prime Minister-designate, a Sunni, has made some public comments. But sources say he wants to shake the leadership of the ministries, some of which are controlled by the same group for years.

Donors have called for reforms that were meant to unlock billions of dollars in 2018 as originally pledged aid, but were never denied.

Any government needs the blessings of the main Christian and Muslim factions to ensure that it conforms to the Lebanese sect’s power sharing.

France has prepared a detailed roadmap to deal with corruption and other problems that have paralyzed the banking system and sent the currency to Tailspin.

Political sources say Berri’s position has hardened to the cabinet after the United States has banned Hezbollah’s allies, a group Washington removes a terrorist group, but which Paris says is a legitimate political role is.

Reporting by Beirut and Paris Bureau; Writing by Edmund Blair; Editing by Catherine Evans and Francis Carey