French envoy criticizes Lebanese prime minister for blaming economic collapse


Lebanese Prime Minister Hassan Diab is pictured at the Government Palace in Beirut, Lebanon, August 10, 2020. REUTERS / Mohamed Azakir

BEIRUT, July 7 (Reuters) – The French ambassador criticized the Lebanese prime minister for declaring the country under siege and blamed years of “mismanagement and inaction” by Lebanese leaders for his economic collapse.

The World Bank has called the Lebanese crisis one of the worst depressions in modern history. The currency has lost over 90% of its value and more than half of the population has been plunged into poverty.

French Ambassador to Lebanon Anne Grillo was speaking on Tuesday in response to a speech by interim Prime Minister Hassan Diab, who told envoys that a siege had been imposed on the country and warned of impending social unrest . Read more

In a recording of his comments released by the French Embassy on Wednesday, Grillo blamed Lebanon’s “political class” for the fall.

“But what is frightening, Mr. Prime Minister, is that today this brutal collapse (…) is the deliberate result of mismanagement and inaction for years,” he said. she declared.

“It is not the result of an outside siege. It is the result of your own responsibilities, all of you, for years, of the political class. It is the reality.”

Diab has been acting since he stepped down following the catastrophic explosion at the Port of Beirut on August 4. Since then, rowdy sectarian politicians have failed to agree on a new government.

Donors have long called for reforms to root out corruption and state waste – widely seen as the root causes of the crisis.

Grillo and US Ambassador to Lebanon Dorothy Shea are traveling to Saudi Arabia on Thursday for meetings on the situation in Lebanon with Saudi officials, the two embassies said.

The rally comes after US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken’s trilateral meeting on Lebanon with French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian and Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud on the sidelines of the G -20 June 29.

Thursday’s meeting in Saudi Arabia will include a discussion on assisting the Lebanese Armed Forces and the Internal Security Forces.

On Tuesday, Diab noted repeated calls for help to link with reform, but said the “imposed siege” on Lebanon did not affect the corrupt – an apparent reference to politicians.

The Lebanese lacked patience and “tying Lebanon’s aid to the formation of a new government has become a threat to the lives of the Lebanese and to the Lebanese entity,” he said, saying the country was a few days away from a social explosion. .

Grillo noted that France, with the support of other powers, had organized two conferences on Lebanon since the August 4 explosion and was working on a third.

“France and many partner countries around this table did not wait for this call to help Lebanon,” said Grillo, adding that last year Paris granted $ 100 million in direct aid to the Lebanese people. .

Although Diab’s government is acting on an interim basis, she said it may take steps, including implementing a social safety net with World Bank funding.

Diab’s speech echoed accusations made Monday by Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah in which he blamed the United States for the suffering of the Lebanese, accusing them of forcing countries not to provide aid to the Lebanese. Lebanon.

Reporting by Imad Creidi; Writing by Tom Perry; Editing by Samia Nakhoul, William Maclean

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