France works on financial path for Lebanese public services

President Emmanuel Macron is considering plans to support Lebanese people even without a government

French President Emmanuel Macron gestures as he speaks during a news conference ahead of the G7 Summit, at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, June 10, 2021. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol/Pool
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French President Emmanuel Macron said on Thursday he was working with international partners to create a financial path to ensure important public services can continue to operate in Lebanon, despite its deep political and economic crisis.

Lebanon is struggling to find enough foreign currency to pay for fuel and other basic imports, with its finances crushed by debt that has grown since the end of the civil war in 1990.

Mr Macron, who has led international aid efforts for France's former colony, has been trying to increase pressure on Lebanon's politicians to break months of deadlock on forming a government and introduce reforms to unlock foreign cash.

"We are technically working with several partners in the international community so that at some point, if the absence of government persisted, we could succeed in preserving a system under international constraint, which would then allow the funding of essential activities and support for the Lebanese people," Mr Macron said.

He said he would continue to defend a road map he proposed last September by putting "maximum pressure" on the various parties.

The plan envisaged a government that would start to tackle endemic corruption and implement reforms needed to make accessible billions of dollars of international aid.

"We remain invested but I cannot replace those who hold the system with all its defects and its imbalances," Mr Macron said.

"I hope that the spirit of responsibility that has been lacking for several months will start. The people deserve it."

Led by France, technical discussions are under way at EU level for sanctions against Lebanese figures who are blocking efforts to break the deadlock.