Rudderless Lebanon could miss out on aid, France warns

"We deeply regret that our Lebanese friends are not able to agree on a government," Bruno Foucher said during a press conference held on a French frigate making a stop in Beirut. (AFP)
Updated 07 December 2018
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Rudderless Lebanon could miss out on aid, France warns

  • Lebanon's economy has looked on the brink of collapse for some time but a Paris conference dubbed CEDRE in April earned it $11 billion in aid pledges
  • Polls held in May gave Saad Hariri a new term as prime minister but Lebanon's fractious political class has since failed to agree on a government line-up

BEIRUT: France on Friday warned Lebanon it could lose the international community's goodwill and much-needed investments if it takes any longer to form a government.
Lebanon's economy has looked on the brink of collapse for some time but a Paris conference dubbed CEDRE in April earned it $11 billion in aid pledges.
Polls held the following month gave Saad Hariri a new term as prime minister but Lebanon's fractious political class has since failed to agree on a government line-up.
Seven months on, a breakthrough does not seem imminent and French Ambassador to Lebanon Bruno Foucher warned that Lebanon stood to lose a lot.
"We deeply regret that our Lebanese friends are not able to agree on a government," he said during a press conference held on a French frigate making a stop in Beirut.
The amounts pledged in Paris were unexpectedly high and other conferences have also mustered support for Lebanon, whose economy has been in a downward spiral for years due to political divisions and corruption.
The outbreak of violence in neighbouring Syria in 2011 added to those woes, keeping tourists away and triggering a massive influx of refugees that has strained public services.
"The lack of a government in Lebanon means running the risk that this dynamic in the international community is lost," Foucher said.
"That moment could pass."
The French envoy explained that a new government was needed to undertake the programme contained in the CEDRE plan and warned that investors would not wait for forever.
"There are other countries that may need international assistance," he said.
Government formation is often a drawn-out process in Lebanon, where a complex governing system seeks to maintain a precarious balance of power between its various political and religious communities.


Ramadan in Sudan: Iftar with the ‘flavor of revolution’

Sudanese protesters attend the Friday prayers near the military headquarters in Khartoum during an ongoing sit-in demanding a civilian-led government transition. (AFP)
Updated 19 May 2019
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Ramadan in Sudan: Iftar with the ‘flavor of revolution’

  • For some this holy month might be the first, without Bashir’s regime, for many years

KHARTOUM: Over the past 30 years, the Sudanese people have lived under the repressive regime of Omar Al-Bashir. But, since the surge of protests that began in the city of Atbara on Dec. 19, in what was to become the start of the Sudanese revolution, citizens hoped that this Ramadan might be the first for many years, and for some, of their entire lives, without the president.

Now, that dream has been realized.
Under Bashir’s rule, poverty stalked the country, but despite the increase in destitution, the values of solidarity and compassion remained strong throughout Sudanese society. Now, as the revolution enters its next phase, those traits endure.
The sit-in in front of the General Command of the Sudanese Armed Forces represents the largest manifestation yet of solidarity and compassion among the general public, who have made this latest protest a symbol of their desire to form a civil government, and turn the country toward the path of democracy and freedom.
Thousands of Sudanese have marched to the rallies, with families arriving hand-in-hand, including their young children in tow, carrying food and drink to prepare for iftar in the courtyard.
The turnout includes hundreds of Sudanese from voluntary organizations providing Ramadan meals to the fasting protesters, and even the soldiers guarding the building, painting a colorful picture of the true spirit of the holy month.
The most prominent charity leader in Sudan, Fares Al-Nour, who was arrested before the overthrow of the Bashir regime, says two centers have been established within the sit-in to supply protesters and soldiers alike for iftar.
Alaa Eddin Sulaiman, an activist, told Arab News that this year’s Ramadan came with the “flavor of the revolution” and that the Sudanese people were expressing joy that the holy month had arrived with Bashir and his regime forced to go.
“We are preparing for a new era, in which the winds of democracy, justice, freedom and supremacy of the law will prevail,” he said.