Le­banon could miss out on aid: France

Gulf Times - - REGION/ARAB WORLD -

France yes­ter­day 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 $11bn 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.

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