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The first foreign head of state to come to Beirut two days after the double explosion which razed part of the Lebanese capital, Emmanuel Macron pledged all the help of France, while claiming to have asked the Lebanese leaders to operate a “profound change”.
Two days after massive explosions in the port of Beirut, French President Emmanuel Macron was visiting the Lebanese capital on Thursday, August 6, where he met with the country’s main political leaders and offered himself a walkabout.
“In the next few days, we will organize an international conference of support and support for Beirut and the Lebanese population”, announced President Macron at a press conference, in order to mobilize “international funding, Europeans, Americans , all the countries of the region and beyond, in order to provide medicine, care, food “.
“We will also put in place a clear and transparent governance so that all of this aid (…) is directly channeled to the populations, to the NGOs, to the teams in the field who need it, without any opacity, any hijacking is possible. “
“The United Nations and the World Bank will play an essential role in this matter”, he added.
Among the 145 victims of the double explosion is a Frenchman, the architect Jean-Marc Bonfils. The president specified that about fifty French people living in Beirut had been “affected” without giving further details. Some 25,000 French people live in Lebanon.
Emmanuel Macron calls for an “open and transparent” international investigation
Assuring Lebanon of the aid of France, Emmanuel Macron first announced the arrival on site of a new French plane “in a few hours” then the arrival, next Thursday, of the Tonnerre amphibious helicopter carrier which will bring medicines, caregivers and equipment. 200 meters long, it contains 69 hospital beds with possible extension and two operating theaters and can transport up to 900 soldiers, according to the Ministry of Defense.
Emmanuel Macron also called for an international investigation “open, transparent”, in order to avoid, according to him, that “things are hidden, and that the doubt does not settle”.
Arrived at the end of the morning in Lebanon, the French president met his Lebanese counterpart Michel Aoun and the main figures of the local political scene. “I was frank, direct, sincere, I expect the Lebanese authorities to make commitments,” said Emmanuel Macron.
Call for “deep political change”
Questioned on numerous occasions on the political crisis that Lebanon has been going through for several months, the French president also called on the Lebanese leaders to a “profound change” to get their country out of political and economic deadlock.
“It is the time of responsibility today for Lebanon and for its leaders”, declared Emmanuel Macron, who called for a “refoundation of a new political order” and “profound changes”.
France, which administered Lebanon during the interwar years, is at the forefront of efforts to lift the country out of the crisis. Paris organized a donors’ conference in 2018. More than $ 11 billion had been pledged by donors at the time, on condition that the country, which began discussions with the IMF last May, undertakes reforms that do not have still not been implemented.
“The funding is there, they are waiting for the reforms”, insisted Emmanuel Macron, citing energy, electricity, public procurement, customs, the fight against corruption, and calling for the rapid launch of an audit of the accounts from the country.
“We must rebuild confidence (…) but it supposes a refoundation of a new political order where each one, beyond the divisions in which he took refuge, of a confessionalism which was sometimes captured, of a system that has also been captured by organized corruption, of having the strength to rebuild a national union to carry out the essential reforms that the Lebanese people need. “
“I was frank, direct, sincere, I expect the Lebanese authorities to make commitments,” said Emmanuel Macron, assuring that he would not show “any complacency” or “any interference”.
“I cannot substitute for the responsibilities of a sovereign elected government, of a sovereign elected president”, he continued.
“Their responsibility is immense. It is that of a refoundation, of a new pact with the Lebanese in the coming weeks. This profound change is what is expected. The Lebanese political forces have today a demonstration to do: that of their ability to respond. I say this with a lot of humility and a lot of requirements. “
AFP and Reuters