French FM Jean-Yves Le Drian (left) meets with Lebanese President Michel Aoun in Baabda, Beirut, on Thursday. AP
Tweeting ahead of his arrival, Jean-Yves Le Drian said French travel restrictions on Lebanese officials suspected of corruption or hindering the formation of a new Cabinet were "just the start.”
France has been trying to force change on Lebanon's ruling class, whose corruption and mismanagement has driven the tiny country into the ground and pushed it to the verge of bankruptcy. The country is experiencing the worst economic and financial crisis of its modern history. The local currency has lost 85% of its value against the dollar in recent months while banks imposed informal controls on transfers and withdrawals.
The economic crisis was made worse by a massive explosion at Beirut’s port last summer, which destroyed the facility and surrounding neighborhoods. The government of Prime Minister Hassan Diab stepped down in the wake of the explosion, and former premier Saad Hariri was tasked with forming a new one.
Jean-Yves Le Drian arrives to meet with Lebanon's President Michel Aoun in Baabda, Lebanon. Reuters
Hariri has not been able to form a Cabinet amid deep disagreements between him and President Michel Aoun, who has no legal recourse to fire him. The deadlock is accelerating the country's meltdown.
"I will be in Lebanon tomorrow with a message of great firmness to political leaders and a message of our complete solidarity to the Lebanese,” Le Drian posted Thursday. "Firmness in the face of those hindering the formation of a government: we have taken national action, and this is just the start.”
Last week, Le Drian said France will start to put in place measures restricting access to French territory for Lebanese officials implicated in the political blockage or corruption.
He did not name any of those targeted or say how many. The Foreign Ministry did not release details of what the restrictions entail.
The move stops short of sanctions for now, but Le Drian said more could come later.
Last year, French President Emmanuel Macron proposed a roadmap to break the political stalemate in the former French protectorate. Macron, who has previously said he is "ashamed” of Lebanese politicians, has been pressing for a Cabinet made up of non-partisan specialists who can work on urgent reforms to extract Lebanon from its multiple crises.
Those efforts have led nowhere as Lebanese top officials continue to bicker about the shape and size of a new Cabinet, and who chooses which ministers.
At a closed council meeting Tuesday on the mission known as UNIFIL, whose mandate is up for renewal at the end of the month, US Ambassador Kelly Craft stressed the need for a new mandate.
Finance minister Ghazi Wazni, named minister in a new cabinet formed on Tuesday, said the financing was intended to cover the country's needs for one year and reduce a run on the dollar.
Angry Lebanese blocked main roads on Friday as petrol stations across the country went on strike for the second day in a row, an AFP photographer and local media said.
No names have been discussed and Hungary has publicly denounced EU efforts to pressure Lebanese politicians, but six diplomats and officials told Reuters that technical work has now begun on preparing sanctions after EU foreign ministers on Monday agreed to take action.
Besides books and authors, a colourful and entertaining combination of dance, music and interactive theatre await visitors at the Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF 2021) which will run from November 3-13 at the Expo Centre Sharjah.
Let not the seemingly boundless outer space engulf man of his limitations but let it be a means to help him understand and clasp to his bosom his and others’ limitations.
Sheikh Ahmed was introduced to the observation cabins of Ain Dubai, which provide visitors the perfect vantage point for 360-degree views of Dubai, over the waters of the Arabian Gulf. The 48 passenger cabins have the capacity to carry more than 1,750 visitors at once.
Qureshi said Pakistan was determined to help Afghanistan avoid a collapse of its economy and had agreed measures to ease some border restrictions and facilitate trade, including on-arrival visas for Afghan business travellers. "