The French President Emanuel MACRON has sent a roadmap to the Lebanese politicians, containing political and financial reforms needed to unlock foreign aid and rescue the country from multiple crises.
The document was delivered by the French ambassador to Beirut.
Lebanon’s government which was appointed in January 2020 with the support of the Hezbollah movement and its allies, failed to make progress in the negotiations with International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a bailout due to inaction on reforms and a dispute over the size of financial losses.
The government resigned this month after the port explosion that killed at least 180 people, injured some 6.000 and destroyed entire neighborhoods, and renewed protests against a political elite for corruption and mismanagement that has led to a deep financial crisis.
On August 26, 2020, the official data showed the country’s inflation rate soared to 112.4 % year-on-year in July, before the port explosion.
The “concept paper” sent by MACRON contains detailed measures, many of them long demanded by foreign donors.
- An audit of the Central Bank.
- Appointment of an interim government that start urgent reforms.
- Early legislative elections within a year.
“The priority must go to the rapid formation of a government, to avoid a power vacuum which will leave Lebanon to sink further into the crisis” the French paper reads.
It lists four sectors in need of immediate attention:
- Humanitarian aid and the authorities’ response to the COVID-19 pandemic;
- Reconstruction after the August 4 blast;
- Political and economic reforms
- and An early parliamentary election.
It also called for progress in IMF talks and UN oversight on international humanitarian funds pledged to Lebanon in recent weeks, as well as an impartial investigation into the cause of the detonation of vast amounts of explosive material stored unsafely at the port for years.
The road map could deepen France’s role in Lebanon, a former French colony.
The paper states that Paris will play a significant role in rebuilding Beirut port, bolster healthcare, send teams from its treasury and central bank to support the financial audit, and help organize early parliamentary voting, along with the European Union.
This article was edited using the data from the Middleeastmonitor.com, Aljazeera.com, and Investing.com.