This photo taken on Aug 9, 2020 shows a Lebanese flag flying along a bridge near the port of Lebanon's capital Beirut, with the background showing the damaged grain silos opposite the blast site of a colossal explosion. (JOSEPH EID / AFP)
BEIRUT / PARIS - France said on Wednesday it was not too late for Lebanon’s politicians to form a government to save the nation from a crippling economic crisis, after they missed a deadline this week to create a cabinet.
Lebanon’s rival sectarian factions failed to deliver on a commitment to Macron to form a cabinet of specialist ministers by Sept 15
Lebanon is grappling with a financial meltdown and is facing the biggest threat to its stability since a 1975-1990 civil war.
French President Emmanuel Macron has taken a lead role in the international effort to rescue the country from disaster, visiting twice since a massive explosion at Beirut port on Aug 4 ripped through the city and compounded Lebanon’s problems.
But Lebanon’s rival sectarian factions failed to deliver on a commitment to Macron to form a cabinet of specialist ministers by Sept 15 to start reforms demanded by donors to trigger aid flows.
“It is not yet too late. Everyone must assume their responsibilities and finally act in the sole interest of Lebanon,” a French presidency official told Reuters, saying politicians must back the prime minister-designate’s efforts.
Shi’ite Muslim and Christian players in the sectarian power-sharing system have complained that Adib, a Sunni Muslim, has not been consulting them
Mustapha Adib has been seeking to appoint ministers so they can begin work on a French roadmap. Sources say he has sought to switch control of ministries, many of which have been held by the same factions for years.
But major Shi’ite Muslim and Christian players in the sectarian power-sharing system have complained that Adib, a Sunni Muslim, has not been consulting them.
“It appears that some did not understand or did not want to understand that the French initiative is the last opportunity to save Lebanon and to prevent its disappearance,” Walid Jumblatt, the leader of Lebanon’s Druze community, wrote on Twitter.
He echoed comments by French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, who said last month that Lebanon could disappear without critical reforms.
Simon Abi Ramia, a lawmaker in the Christian Free Patriotic Movement, said on Twitter that Lebanon faced a critical 24 hours in which either the “logic of reason” would win and a government would emerge or Adib would step down.
The French roadmap sets out milestones for a new government, ranging from resuming stalled talks with the International Monetary Fund to fixing the broken electricity system.
This picture taken on Oct 15, 2019 shows a giant poster depicting Lebanese Druze Leader Walid Joumblatt hanging along the side of a building in the capital Beirut. (JOSEPH EID / AFP)
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