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French President Emmanuel Macron is marking Lebanon’s centenary on September 1st and stressing the need for an overhaul of its complex sectarian political system on his second visit since the catastrophic blast that destroyed parts of the Lebanese capital on August 4.

If Lebanese leaders fail to shift direction in the next three months, Macron says punitive measures could be imposed, including withholding bailout money and sanctions on the ruling class.

French President Emmanuel Macro is shown with president Aoun

Macron has warned Lebanese politicians they risk sanctions if they fail to set the nation on a new course within three months, stepping up pressure for reforms in a country collapsing under the weight of an economic crisis.

“It’s the last chance for this system,” Macron told Politico in an interview while travelling to Beirut on Monday. “It’s a risky bet I’m making, I am aware of it … I am putting the only thing I have on the table: my political capital.”

Macron said he was seeking “credible commitments” and “demanding follow-up mechanism” from Lebanon’s leaders, including a legislative election in six to 12 months.

Should they fail to shift direction in the next three months, he told Politico, punitive measures could be imposed, including withholding bailout money and sanctions on the ruling class.

Lebanese politicians, some of them former warlords who have overseen decades of industrial-scale corruption, face a daunting task with an economy in meltdown, a swathe of Beirut in tatters after the August 4 port blast and sectarian tensions rising.

Macron said he would use his weight to press for the formation of a new government. Without reforms, funds pledged at a 2018 donor conference in Paris would not be released, he said.

FRANCE 24/Politico

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