By Arab News
France said the European Union had reached a consensus to sanction Lebanese leaders to pressure them to form a stable government, the French foreign minister said on Monday.
“Lebanon has been in self-destruct mode for several months,” Jean-Yves Le Drian said. “Now there is a major emergency situation for a population that is in distress.”
A political crisis has left the country without a functioning government since the last one resigned after a massive explosion killed 200 people and destroyed swathes of Beirut in August 2020.
Speaking during an EU Foreign Affairs Council meeting, Le Drian said: “For several months now, we have been urging the Lebanese authorities to form a government, to make the necessary reforms to get the country out of the tragedy into which it is going to enter and there is now a political consensus to put in place a legal framework and sanctions before the end of the month.”
He said this will happen before the “unfortunate anniversary of the explosion in the port of Beirut on Aug. 4.”
The French foreign minster said the legal framework “will serve as a tool to pressure the Lebanese authorities to form the government, and to advance in the implementation of the essential reforms that this country is waiting for.”
Josep Borrell, EU foreign policy chief, also confirmed that the 27 nations gave the green light to establish the legal framework.
“The objective is to complete this by the end of the month,” Borrell said, adding: “The economy’s imploding and the suffering of the people of Lebanon is continuously growing.”
“They need to have a Lebanese government in order to avoid the breakdown of the country, (one that is) fully able to implement reforms and protect this population.”
Lebanon is mired in what the World Bank has called one of the worst economic crises since the 1850s. The state is struggling to buy enough fuel to keep the lights on.
The economic crisis has seen the Lebanese pound lose more than 90 percent of its value against the dollar on the black market, and left more than half the population living below the poverty line.
In April, France imposed sanctions by restricting entry of Lebanese figures it says are responsible for the political crisis.