French President Emmanuel Macron criticised a "failing" Lebanese political class he blamed for their country's economic turmoil at a donors' conference that raised 370 million US dollars on the anniversary of the Beirut port blast, reports The Daily Star.
One year since an explosion ripped through the capital's port and plunged Lebanon further into economic crisis, its politicians have yet to form a government capable of rebuilding the country, despite French and international pressure.
"Lebanese leaders seem to bet on a stalling strategy, which I regret and I think is a historic and moral failure," Macron said in opening remarks as host of the international donors' conference.
"There will be no blank cheque for the Lebanese political system. Because it is they who, since the start of the crisis but also before that, are failing."
France has led international efforts to lift its former colony out of crisis. Macron has visited Beirut twice since the port blast, raised emergency aid and imposed travel bans on some senior Lebanese officials in his quest for a reform package.
He has also persuaded the European Union to agree on a sanctions framework that is ready to be used.
But his initiatives have been in vain so far.
In Wednesday's videoconference, Lebanese President Michel Aoun appealed for solidarity, saying the Covid-19 pandemic had caused drug shortages and exacerbated the plight of the Lebanese people.
"Lebanon is currently going through the hardest times," Aoun said.
Addressing the messages of urgency from Macron and the international community on the need for a new government, he said: "Today we are in a new phase. I do hope that a government is formed, a government which is capable of implementing the required reforms."