EU threatens Lebanese politicians with sanctions over political crisis
BEIRUT – European Union foreign policy chief berates Lebanese politicians for delays in forming new cabinet, warning that the Union may impose sanctions on those behind the stalemate policy in the country affected by the crisis.
Josep Borrell makes his comments at the presidential palace near the capital Beirut after meeting with Lebanese President Michel Aoun today. This is the first meeting of a two-day visit to Lebanon.
Borrell’s comments come as Lebanese media report that France and the EU are developing proposals for possible travel bans and asset freezes for some politicians.
Borrell said Lebanese politicians should quickly form a new government, implement reforms and strike a deal with the International Monetary Fund to start pulling the small country out of its crippling economic and financial crisis.
Lebanon’s economic crisis – sparked by decades of corruption and mismanagement – began in late 2019 and has intensified in recent months. The World Bank said earlier this month that the crisis would likely be one of the worst the world has seen in more than 150 years, adding that the economy had contracted by 20.3% in 2020 and is expected to decline 9.5% this year.
A power struggle has erupted between Prime Minister designate Saad Hariri on one side, and Aoun and his son-in-law Gebran Bassil, who heads the largest parliamentary bloc, on the other. It has worsened the crisis despite warnings from world leaders and economic experts about the dire economic conditions facing little Lebanon.
Hariri was appointed to form a new government in October and has so far failed. The government of Prime Minister Hassan Diab resigned days after a massive explosion in Beirut on August 4, which left 211 dead and more than 6,000 injured.