Arab Times

Paris bids to force change on ‘Le­banon’s politi­cians’

‘Can Le­banese rule them­selves?’

- Politics · Paris · Lebanon · Beirut · Emmanuel Macron · France · An-Nahar · Kataeb Party

BEIRUT, Sept 12, (AP): Dur­ing his visit this month, French Pres­i­dent Em­manuel Macron gave Le­banon’s politi­cians a road map for pol­icy changes and re­form, set dead­lines for them to take ac­tion and told them he’d be back in De­cem­ber to check on progress.

It was a hands-on ap­proach that an­gered some in Le­banon and was wel­comed by oth­ers. And it re­vived a bit­ter ques­tion in the tiny Mediter­ranean coun­try: Can Le­banese rule them­selves?

Le­banon’s rul­ing class, in power since the end of the civil war in 1990, has run the tiny coun­try and its pop­u­la­tion into the ground. Head­ing a sec­tar­ian sys­tem that en­cour­ages cor­rup­tion over gov­ern­ing, the elite have en­riched them­selves while in­vest­ing lit­tle on in­fra­struc­ture, fail­ing to build a pro­duc­tive econ­omy and push­ing it to the verge of bank­ruptcy.

Anger over cor­rup­tion and mis­man­age­ment has come to a peak af­ter the gi­ant Aug. 4 ex­plo­sion at Beirut’s port, caused by the det­o­na­tion of nearly 3,000 tons of am­mo­nium ni­trate that politi­cians al­lowed to sit there for years. Nearly 200 peo­ple were killed and tens of thou­sands of homes were dam­aged. An­other large fire erupted at the port on Thurs­day, only fur­ther trau­ma­tiz­ing and frus­trat­ing Beirutis.

Poet and jour­nal­ist Akl Awit wrote in An-Na­har news­pa­per that he strongly op­poses out­side in­ter­fer­ence, but the po­lit­i­cal elite brought it on them­selves.

“This is a class that does not care about law, con­sti­tu­tion, ju­di­ciary, morals, con­science, earth­quakes or even about bankrupt­ing peo­ple,” he wrote. “This class only wants to stay in power.”

Some worry that even out­side pres­sure can­not force re­form on politi­cians, for whom re­form means an end to power and per­haps even­tual ac­count­abil­ity.

“They are known to give empty prom­ises whether to their peo­ple or the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity,” said Elias Hankash, a leg­is­la­tor from the rightwing Kataeb party who re­signed from par­lia­ment fol­low­ing the port ex­plo­sion. “Re­gret­tably maybe Pres­i­dent Macron does not know whom he is deal­ing with.”

Re­sis­tance to re­form can be star­tling. In 2018, a France-led con­fer­ence pledged some $11 bil­lion in aid to Le­banon.

 ??  ?? In this Sept 1, 2020 file photo, French Pres­i­dent Em­manuel Macron, (left), re­views troops as he ar­rives on the French he­li­copter car­rier Ton­nerre, off the port of Beirut, Le­banon. Dur­ing his visit last week, Macron gave Le­banon’s politi­cians a road map for pol­icy changes and re­form, set dead­lines for them to take ac­tion and told them he’d be back in De­cem­ber to check on progress. It was a hands-on ap­proach that an­gered some in Le­banon and was wel
comed by oth­ers. (AP)
In this Sept 1, 2020 file photo, French Pres­i­dent Em­manuel Macron, (left), re­views troops as he ar­rives on the French he­li­copter car­rier Ton­nerre, off the port of Beirut, Le­banon. Dur­ing his visit last week, Macron gave Le­banon’s politi­cians a road map for pol­icy changes and re­form, set dead­lines for them to take ac­tion and told them he’d be back in De­cem­ber to check on progress. It was a hands-on ap­proach that an­gered some in Le­banon and was wel comed by oth­ers. (AP)

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