French President Ups Pressure on Lebanon Politicians
French President is calling upon the ruling class to deal with three disasters of political short-sightedness, insolvency of financial institutions and the pandemic, which nearly simultaneously crushed Lebanon in the recent days. He will appeal to the conscience of the ruling class, the Elysee spokesperson stated.
Emmanuel Macron did not skimp on dire warnings. The French President warned that Lebanon risked another civil war if it were left alone in this crisis.
Four weeks after the mega-explosion in the port, Mr Macron is travelling to Beirut for the second time on Monday evening, to speak to the conscience of the ruling class again on Tuesday.
First of all, French President had the Lebanese government delivered a bilateral reform concept that called for an end to the sectarian-political proportional representation system, a fall in public finances and a general reform of the banking sector.
The head of state of the former colonial power France is calling for a radical political turning point in Lebanon: a non-denominational government with temporary special powers and new elections within a year. Otherwise, international billions will remain blocked for reconstruction. "There are no blank checks," Macron said. So far, Lebanon has only received emergency aid of 250 million euros to buy food, medicine and fuel for the next few months.
The disaster of the short-sighted politicians
But the political class of the state, which will celebrate its 100th anniversary on Tuesday, is reluctant.
Lebanon's President Michel Aoun hinted at the weekend that the political system would have to be changed, without specifying whether this also meant the division of top state offices among denominations. So far, the Christians have provided the President, the Sunnis the Prime Minister and the Shiites the President of Parliament.
Unmoved, a circle of former Sunni prime ministers nominated the Lebanese ambassador to Germany, Mustapha Adib, for the office of the head of government, a move that the protest movement immediately rejected as a continuation of the failed proportional representation system. After his election in parliament, Adib, 48, pledged "to form a government in record time and to begin key reforms to regain the confidence of the Lebanese and the international community."
The other problem for Lebanon is the electoral law which rewards small political groups of minorities and prevents the big political parties from winning the majority. Lebanon has been a country in which the cynical maxim of the Soviet ruler Joseph Stalin that it's not the people who vote that count, it's the people who count the votes was true. President Macron is pressing on the political class to introduce the system, which would allow for the formation of the stable and effective government.
The disaster of financial system
The collapse of the banking system has wiped out the savings of most Lebanese, while the oligarchs have long since shifted their millions in profits from the fraudulent snap-ball interest abroad. This created a situation, Macron judged, in which there is practically no political renewal and reforms are almost impossible. The negotiations with the International Monetary Fund have been standing still for months. At the weekend, a Lebanese negotiator resigned for the third time in protest. As an alternative, Hezbollah brought up Communist China's loans because the leadership in Beijing - unlike those in Europe and the USA - does not set any political preconditions. An international investigation into the cause of the explosion is also still blocked by Beirut's power clique.
Meanwhile, real estate sharks are trying to capitalize on their compatriots' misery. They swarm out to buy damaged historic buildings at ridiculous prices whose owners have no money to pay for repairs. The Maronite patriarch Béchara el-Rai warned against "vultures over the city". An increasing number of city inhabitants is giving up concluding that Lebanon has a future. For instance, Canada is now inundated with visa applications from young Lebanese who want to emigrate.
The Pandemic disaster
As if it would not be enough troubles for Lebanon, the Wuhan virus numbers have increased steeply. At the end of last week, the toll of the infected exceeded the 15,000 for the first time. Every day health authorities report 600 new cases. This number would be compared to the equivalent of 8,000 new infections per day in Australia or Germany. Last week the government imposed new lockdown, which has the potential to further impoverish the city that is trying to recover from a result of the catastrophic explosion. In several seconds-long blasts at least 300,000 people lost their apartments and houses. In many houses, the water and sewage system was completely damaged.
The hospitals lack beds for seriously ill patients, who have to remain at home. Occasionally relatives reported on Twitter that the Ministry of Health had called them and urged them to fill out the Wuhan virus sickness as the cause of death on the death certificate. It is a method in which the ministry utilise to increase the statistics of pandemic deaths in order to collect more emergency aid from the World Bank.