French president warns of suspending help if reforms not implemented in Lebanon within 8 weeks

– French President Emmanuel Macron said Tuesday evening that he expects Lebanese officials to deliver on their promises regarding reforms within 8 weeks, al-Jadeed local TV channel reported.

“If by the end of October, the Lebanese authorities do not deliver on their promises, we will not offer help to Lebanon. I will explain to the Lebanese that we wanted to help but cannot do it due to lack of reforms,” Macron said during a press conference before he ended a visit to Lebanon.

Macron did not rule out the possibility of imposing sanctions on Lebanese authorities if they fail to implement reforms.

“We will reach the sanctions level when we become able to hold specific people responsible for corruption and the lack of reforms in addition to identifying those responsible for illegal financial practices or other malpractices,” he said.

The French president said that he has agreed with Lebanese authorities to follow a roadmap which was approved by all political parties during the visit.

The roadmap, according to Macron, includes reforms in electricity, banking and judicial sectors, in addition to conducting a forensic audit for the Central Bank of Lebanon.

Macron said that France will focus on four priorities in Lebanon in the coming period including offering 7 million euros (8.34 million U.S. dollars) to fight against COVID-19, enhancing food security, providing funds and books to schools, and the reconstruction of Beirut’s port.

He arrived in Beirut on Monday and then met with Lebanese senior officials and civil society representatives, as well as attending several local activities.

Macron also visited Beirut’s port to follow up on the work at the site after huge explosions rocked the port on Aug. 4 and destroyed around 8,000 buildings in the city, leading to the homelessness of around 300,000 people.

This is his second visit to Lebanon in less than one month.