French President Emmanuel Macron on Sunday accused Lebanon’s leaders of betraying their promises over the failure to form a government in the wake of the giant blast at the Beirut port in August.
At a rare news conference devoted to Lebanon, Macron said the political elite were “deciding to betray” their obligations and had committed “collective treason” by failing to form a government.
Lebanon’s prime minister-designate, Mustapha Adib, quit on Saturday after trying for almost a month to line up a non-partisan cabinet, dealing a blow to a French plan aimed at rallying sectarian leaders to tackle the worst crisis since the nation’s 1975-1990 civil war.
“They have decided to betray this commitment (to form a government),” Macron told reporters, declaring he was “ashamed” of the country’s leaders.
“I see that the Lebanese authorities and political forces chose to favour their partisan and individual interests to the detriment of the general interest of the the country,” he added.
He also sent a pointed warning to the Iran-backed Shia group Hezbollah, which was well represented in the outgoing government and some analysts accuse of holding up the process.
Hezbollah should “not think it is more powerful than it is.... It must show that it respects all the Lebanese. And in recent days, it has clearly shown the opposite,” said Macron.
The August 4 explosion of hundreds of tons of ammonium nitrate at the Beirut port killed more than 190 people, wounded thousands and ravaged large parts of the capital.
The disaster sparked new protests over corruption and mismanagement, prompting the previous cabinet to step down.