“We were welcoming of President Macron and the French initiative, but not on the basis of him acting as a general prosecutor, a judge … and the ruler of Lebanon,” Hassan Nasrallah said in a televised speech, days after the French president accused the entire ruling elite in Beirut of corruption and betrayal.
Following the Aug. 4 Beirut blasts, Lebanon was plunged further into an economic, financial and social catastrophe. The country already possessed one of the world’s highest debt-to-GDP ratios and was suffering from decades of corruption, clientelism and sectarianism.
The Lebanese people took to the streets last October in the biggest anti-government protests since 2005 when over 1 million protesters headed to Beirut to demand the withdrawal of Syrian troops from the country.
Macron and France spearheaded efforts to help right the ship in Lebanon after the Aug. 4 explosions, but this was dealt a severe blow after Prime Minister-designate Mustapha Adib stepped down last weekend.
Adib, who has now returned to his post as Lebanon’s ambassador to Germany, was unable to form a government of independent specialists, which he said was his condition for heading a new cabinet.
Hezbollah and its Shia ally, Amal Movement, refused to budge when the rest of the political parties agreed to rotate so-called sovereign ministries. The Shia duo was adamant about retaining the Finance Ministry, whose minister must sign off on almost all important decisions.
Although the Lebanese constitution calls for abolishing sectarianism, government shares are divided among religious sects.
Nasrallah hit out at Macron for “generalizing” the entire political class and said Hezbollah refuses to be associated with corruption.
The group has long been accused of smuggling weapons and goods through the Port of Beirut, Beirut’s airport and its border with Syria. The US recently sanctioned two former Lebanese ministers for providing support to Hezbollah, including granting companies associated with Hezbollah government contracts.
“We still welcome the French initiative and are ready for dialogue, but the same approach used last month will not yield results,” Nasrallah said, accusing Macron of being arrogant in his Sunday press conference.