PARIS (Reuters) – French President Emmanuel Macron said Thursday he was working with international partners to create a financial mechanism to ensure that vital public services in Lebanon can continue to function despite its deep political and economic crisis.
Lebanon is struggling to find enough foreign currency to pay for fuel and other basic imports, and its finances are crushed by a mountain of debt that has accumulated since the country’s civil war in 1975-1990.
Macron, who has led international relief efforts for France’s former colony, has tried to put pressure on Lebanon’s contentious politicians to break months of deadlocks on the formation of a new government and to initiate reforms to free up foreign cash.
“We are working technically with several partners in the international community so that at some point (…) in the prolonged absence of the government we could succeed in maintaining a system under international constraints that would then enable the financing of essential activities.” And support for the Lebanese people, “Macron said at a press conference.
He said he would continue to defend a roadmap he proposed last September by “putting maximum pressure” on the various parties. The roadmap envisions a government that would take steps against endemic corruption and implement reforms necessary to trigger billions in international aid.
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“We remain invested (in Lebanon), but I cannot replace those who hold the system with all its flaws and imbalances. I hope that the spirit of responsibility that has been missing for several months begins. The people deserve it” , he said .
Technical talks are under way at the European Union level, led by France, to impose sanctions on Lebanese figures blocking efforts to overcome the impasse.
(Reporting by John Irish, Editing by Gareth Jones and Timothy Heritage)
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