PARIS – France’s foreign minister said on Thursday time was running out to prevent Lebanon collapsing and that he could see no sign that the country’s politicians were doing what they could to save it.
France has spearheaded international efforts to rescue the former French protectorate from its deepest crisis since the 1975-1990 civil war by trying to use Paris’ historical influence to persuade squabbling politicians to adopt a reform roadmap and form a new government to unlock international aid.
“I would be tempted to qualify Lebanese politicians as guilty of not helping a country in danger,” Jean-Yves le Drian told a news conference in Paris.
“They all committed to act to create an inclusive government and committed to implementing indispensable reforms. That was seven months ago and nothing is moving. I think it’s not too late, but the delays are very small before collapse.
Prime minister-designate Saad al-Hariri is at loggerheads with President Michel Aoun and has been unable to form a new government since October.
Groups of protesters have been burning tyres daily to block roads since the Lebanese currency tumbled to a new lows, deepening popular anger over Lebanon’s financial collapse.
“It’s up to the Lebanese authorities to take their destiny in hand knowing that the international community is looking with concern,” Le Drian said. “There is still time to act today, but tomorrow will be too late.”