Macron accuses Lebanon leaders of betrayal over government failure

Update Macron accuses Lebanon leaders of betrayal over government failure
At a rare news conference devoted to Lebanon, Macron said the political elite had decided "to betray" their obligations and had committed "collective treason" by failing to form a government in Lebanon. (Screenshot: France24)
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Updated 27 September 2020

Macron accuses Lebanon leaders of betrayal over government failure

Macron accuses Lebanon leaders of betrayal over government failure
  • Lebanon's premier-designate Mustapha Adib stepped down on Saturday
  • French president also sent pointed warning to Iran-backed Shiite group Hezbollah

PARIS: French President Emmanuel Macron on Sunday accused Lebanon's leaders of betraying their promises over the failure to form a government in the wake of the giant blast at the Beirut port in August.

At a rare news conference devoted to Lebanon, Macron said the political elite had decided "to betray" their obligations and had committed "collective treason" by failing to form a government.

Lebanon's premier-designate Mustapha Adib stepped down on Saturday, saying he had been unable to form a reform-minded government.

"They have decided to betray this commitment (to form a government)," Macron told reporters, declaring he was "ashamed" of the country's leaders.

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"I see that the Lebanese authorities and political forces chose to favour their partisan and individual interests to the detriment of the general interest of the the country," he added.

He also sent a pointed warning to the Iran-backed Shiite group Hezbollah, which was well represented in the outgoing government and some analysts accuse of holding up the process.

Hezbollah should "not think it is more powerful than it is.... It must show that it respects all the Lebanese. And in recent days days, it has clearly shown the opposite," said Macron.

Macron, who visited Lebanon twice in the wake of the explosion, had repeatedly urged the Lebanese not to waste any more time in forming a government.

The August 4 explosion of hundreds of tons of ammonium nitrate at the Beirut port killed more than 190 people, wounded thousands and ravaged large parts of the capital.

The disaster sparked new protests over corruption and mismanagement, prompting the previous cabinet to step down.