NEW YORK: The UN Security Council on Wednesday welcomed the fact that parliamentary elections in Lebanon went ahead as planned on May 15, “despite challenging circumstances,” but called for the swift formation of a new, inclusive government and the “urgent implementation” of previously outlined economic reforms.
In a joint statement, council members said that the reforms should include the adoption of “an appropriate” national budget for 2022 that will enable the speedy implementation of an agreement with the International Monetary Fund “to respond to the demands of the Lebanese population.”
The country’s economy has been mired since August 2019 in a crippling crisis, during which the Lebanese pound has lost more than 90 percent of its value and more than three-quarters of the population have fallen into poverty.
Last month, Lebanon and the IMF had reached an agreement on a plan that could unlock about $3 billion of international funding over several years. However, the deal is subject to approval by the management and executive board of the IMF, and hinges on Lebanese authorities implementing a host of economic reforms, including the restructuring of the country’s collapsed banking sector, improved transparency, and unifying the multiple exchange rates that apply to the nation’s spiraling currency.
The Security Council stressed the role Lebanese institutions, including the newly elected parliament, have to play in the implementation of these necessary reforms and underscored the importance of delivering them, “to ensure effective international support.”
Members also called for steps to be taken to enhance the “full, equal and meaningful participation and representation” of women in Lebanese institutions, including the new government.
“These elections were key to enabling the Lebanese people to exercise their civil and political rights,” the council members said.
They reiterated the need for “a swift conclusion of an independent, impartial, thorough and transparent investigation” into the devastating explosion at Beirut’s port on Aug. 4, 2020, which left more than 200 people dead, thousands injured and many more displaced, as well as billions of dollars in property damage.
The council said the investigation is “essential to meet the legitimate aspirations of the Lebanese people for accountability and justice.”
Members also urged all Lebanese parties to implement a tangible policy of “disassociation from any external conflicts, as an important priority, as spelled out in previous declarations, in particular the 2012 Baabda Declaration.”
The Iran-backed Hezbollah party has sent militants to Syria to fight alongside the forces of the Assad regime.