EU senior official warns of sanctions over delay in Lebanon’s cabinet formation

The European Union’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell warned on Saturday that the EU could impose sanctions on the Lebanese politicians who stand behind the political stalemate in Lebanon, a statement by Lebanon’s presidency reported.

Borrell’s comments came following his meeting with Lebanese President Michel Aoun to discuss obstacles hindering government formation in Lebanon.

Borrell said Lebanese politicians must quickly form a new government, implement reforms and reach a deal with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to get the country out of its crisis.

Lebanon’s crisis started in late 2019 amid shortage in U.S. dollar reserves.

It was further exacerbated by the explosions that rocked Beirut’s port, resulting in the resignation of the cabinet of Caretaker Prime Minister Hassan Diab on Aug. 10, 2020.

Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri was appointed on Oct. 22, 2020 but he has been incapable of forming a new cabinet due to his differences with President Aoun over distribution of ministerial shares.

“We cannot understand that nine months after the resignation of a prime minister, there is still no government in Lebanon,” Borrell said.

Borrell said that only an urgent agreement with the IMF will rescue the country from a financial collapse.

“There is no time to waste. You are at the edge of the financial collapse,” he said.

Borrell said the EU stands ready to assist Lebanon and its people if the country succeeds in striking a deal with the IMF