French leader Macron appoints Le Drian to help break Lebanon's political deadlock

Former foreign minister appointed as President's personal envoy to the Middle East country

Former former foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian with French President Emmanuel Macron in 2022. Reuters
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French President Emmanuel Macron has appointed former foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian as his personal envoy to Lebanon.

The appointment comes a year after Mr Le Drian stepped down after having previously failed to make any inroads in Lebanon's political deadlock.

Mr Macron led international efforts after a massive explosion killed at least 190 people in Beirut in 2020 and destroyed large parts of the capital.

However. his efforts afterwards to resolve the political and economic crisis that followed failed.

“In the spirit of friendship that binds France to Lebanon, the President of the Republic continues to act in favour of a solution to the institutional crisis and the implementation of the reforms necessary for the recovery of this country,” the French presidency said.

“He appointed Jean-Yves Le Drian … as his personal representative in order to discuss with all those who, in Lebanon and abroad, can contribute to breaking the deadlock.”

Mr Le Drian was foreign minister between 2017 and 2022 and had been in charge of putting several of Mr Macron's initiatives for Lebanon into motion and co-ordinating with the French presidency.

A former Socialist politician and defence minister for five years under President Francois Hollande between 2012 and 2017, Mr Le Drian is deemed a political heavyweight and is the latest politician to be brought back into Macron's fold over recent months.

He will be charged with helping to find a “consensual and efficient” solution to the crisis that has intensified after the deadly 2020 Beirut port explosion, said a presidential official.

The official said Mr Le Drian had vast experience in “crisis management” and would be heading to Lebanon “very soon”.

“The situation remains difficult in Lebanon”, with a need to “get out of both the political crisis and the economic and financial difficulties”, the official said.

After about four years, France has failed to use its historical influence in the country to push its squabbling politicians to carry out economic reforms that would unlock vital foreign aid.

Most recently, it has faced criticism for its role behind the scenes as Lebanon attempts to find a new president.

Lebanon has had no head of state since President Michel Aoun's term ended at the end of October, deepening institutional paralysis in a country where one of the world's worst economic crises has been festering for years.

Updated: June 08, 2023, 5:06 AM