France's Macron: No aid given to Lebanon without a government capable of reform

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There will be no international aid to Lebanon unless the country’s politicians form a government to implement reforms, French President Emmanuel Macron said Wednesday.

"I will return to Lebanon in December to put pressure on the political class," to form a new government, Macron said during his opening his opening remarks of the International Conference in Support of Beirut.

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The French president also revealed that the international community would establish a fund managed by the World Bank to oversee and distribute the humanitarian aid pledged to Lebanon, which has been devastated by the coronavirus pandemic and the Aug. 4 Port of Beirut explosion.

France and the International community would not give up on the need for reforms and thorough investigations into the Port of Beirut.

On the Lebanese President Michel Aoun’s part, he said a forensic audit was needed to unmask those responsible for the economic collapse in Lebanon. Aoun was referring to decades of rampant corruption in the country where billions of dollars were provided for supposed infrastructure and government projects.

But Aoun said the priority was to form a new government. Lebanon has been without a fully functioning government since Aug. 10, when Hassan Diab stepped down due to pressure from protesters.

"Our priority is to form a government by adopting single standards that apply to all political forces and which are required to launch a reform workshop," he added.

"There is no doubt that the countries meeting today can provide Lebanon with basic assistance, through the means available to the United Nations and the European Union, to combat the theft of public funds," Aoun added.

Aoun said that Lebanon was currently negotiating with the World Bank over a loan of $246 million to establish a social safety net program and to help the country cope with its response to the coronavirus.

World Bank President David Malpass has renewed the call to the Lebanese authorities to set up a social safety net and engage in necessary comprehensive reforms, including financial sector reform.

“The World Bank is ready to help the Lebanese and institutions in Lebanon by contributing with other institutions and countries, and we affirm our commitment to help Lebanon implement the provisions of the roadmap to better rebuild Beirut Port,” he added.

The Secretary-General of the United Nations said that the international community must call on the leadership in Lebanon to put political differences and interests aside and meet the needs of citizens and the United Nations will continue to support Lebanon and its people to restore stability.

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