File photo: French President Emmanuel Macron stressed the need for reforms and slammed the manner in which matters in the country were being handled, called for a new system in Lebanon Aug 7, 2020

French President Emmanuel Macron’s third visit to Beirut on Dec. 22-23 comes amid a worsening dispute between President Michel Aoun and Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri, which has so far obstructed the birth of a new government.

During his stay, Macron is scheduled to visit the UNIFIL forces in South Lebanon and spend the night before Christmas Eve with the French battalion.

As part of the protocol visit, a meeting with Aoun is currently on the agenda. But the Lebanese political class’ failure to implement the French initiative might push the French president to conduct a series of meetings with other leaders in an attempt to break the deadlock.

In this regard, political sources, who spoke to Asharq Al-Awsat, expect Macron to meet with other Lebanese officials to prevent Aoun from employing his exclusive encounter with the French president as a means to blame the other parties for the failure to form a new government.

Moreover, the sources believe that if Macron only meets with the Lebanese president as part of his protocol visit, some parties would consider that he withdrew his initiative, which would affect his role in the Mediterranean region.

The sources, on the other hand, confirmed that Macron would not get into the trouble of searching for reasons for the failure of his initiative, and would directly go to the essence of the problem and the urgent need to form the government as soon as possible to stop the economic and financial collapse.

The sources also said that the escalating clash between Aoun and Hariri came to confirm that the “political chemistry” between them was still missing and that their mutual trust was “lost”, adding that extraordinary effort should be made to restore matters to their normal course.

Asharq Al-Awsat

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