French President Emmanuel Macron appointed his former Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian on Wednesday (June 7th) as "personal envoy for Lebanon", in order to "facilitate" a "consensual and effective" solution to the serious political impasse that the country is going through.
Jean-Yves Le Drian, with a solid experience in "crisis management", "plans to go very quickly to Lebanon", added an adviser to the head of state. The president asked him "to report quickly on the situation", with "proposals for action". "The situation remains difficult in Lebanon," with the need to "get out of both the political crisis and the economic and financial difficulties," said the adviser.
'A form of consensus'
Emmanuel Macron has personally been very committed to this issue, multiplying urgent appeals to the Lebanese political class to overcome its divisions, but without achieving the expected results so far. According to Paris, it is urgently necessary to "gather a form of consensus" to allow the election of a president of Lebanon, a country without a head of state for more than seven months because of political blockages in this system with complex balances. And also accelerate the implementation of the "necessary reforms" to get the country out of the economic slump aggravated by the political crisis.
The Lebanese parliament is convened on June 14 to try again to elect a president. But it is deeply divided between the camp of the pro-Iranian Shiite movement Hezbollah, which does not have the necessary majority to impose its candidate, former minister Sleiman Frangié, and its opponents, including Christian parties, also unable so far to impose the name of Michel Moawad. The latter withdrew his candidacy to support Jihad Azour, a senior official of the International Monetary Fund, who is not yet formally a candidate.
"Don't waste any opportunity"
Since the Parliament is convened, this deadline must be useful", "we must not waste any opportunity", pleaded the Elysee, noting that the emergence of two candidates, Sleiman Frangié and Jihad Azour, was an "opportunity" to "value". According to the constitution, the president of Lebanon is always a Christian. "Our line remains the same," namely that the way out of the crisis "requires more than an agreement on a name," added the French presidency, which has said for months that it has no candidate to succeed Michel Aoun, whose presidential term expired on October 31. For Paris, "the right name will be the one that will be able to commit to the most necessary reforms," it was insisted. In this context, the new envoy will have to "listen to everyone in Lebanon" to "facilitate a solution that is both consensual and effective".
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At the head of French diplomacy from 2017 to 2022 during Emmanuel Macron's first five-year term, Jean-Yves Le Drian, 75, had been heavily involved in the Lebanese file, especially after the explosion of the port of Beirut in 2020. The one who had been Minister of Defense of François Hollande (2012-2017) before becoming the man of confidence of the current head of state at the Quai d'Orsay had taken field with the political world since the last presidential election. His name had been circulated to take the head of the Arab World Institute in Paris, whose current president Jack Lang, 83, would hope to win another term.