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Macron Says Lebanon's Hezbollah Rejects Concessions

Macron Says Lebanon's Hezbollah Rejects Concessions

Sunday, 27 September, 2020 - 18:30
French President Emmanuel Macron. EPA file photo

French President Emmanuel Macron slammed Hezbollah on Sunday and said he would not give up on an initiative to save Lebanon from collapse, but that he was "ashamed" of the country's leaders and would increase pressure on them to change course.

Lebanon's prime minister-designate, Mustapha Adib, was picked on Aug. 31 to form a cabinet after Macron's intervention secured a consensus on naming him.

Adib quit on Saturday after failing to line up a non-partisan cabinet, dealing a blow to the French plan aimed at rallying sectarian leaders to tackle the country's crisis.

"I am ashamed of Lebanon's political leaders," Macron told a news conference in Paris. "The leaders did not want, clearly and resolutely, to respect the commitments made to France and the international community. They decided to betray this commitment."

Under the French roadmap, the new government would take steps to tackle corruption and implement reforms needed to trigger billions of dollars of international aid to fix an economy crushed by a huge debt.

But there was deadlock over a demand by Lebanon's two main Shiite groups, Amal and Iran-backed Hezbollah, that they name several ministers, including finance, who will have a big role in drawing up economic rescue plans.

Macron criticized both parties for blocking efforts to form a government by a mid-September deadline.

"I understood that the goal of Hezbollah was to make no concessions ... The failure is theirs," he said.

"There's a question that needs to be asked to Hezbollah and ourselves. Is it really a political party or does it proceed just in a logic dictated by Iran, and its terrorist forces?" Macron told the news conference.

He said political leaders had chosen "to deliver Lebanon to the game of foreign powers", destabilizing the region.

He gave Lebanon's political class four to six weeks to implement his roadmap, and said he would commit to holding a donor conference for Lebanon in October. He ruled out immediate sanctions.

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