Figures standing in the way for the formation of a new Lebanese government may face tougher sanctions, warned France’s foreign minister on Friday.
Speaking to Lebanon’s official news agency before ending a two-day visit to the country, Jean-Yves Le Drian said Lebanese officials had failed to keep their promises and commitments to French President Emmanuel Macron on forming a government.
“To this day, my observation is that the political players have not lived up to their responsibilities and have still not seriously started working on the country’s recovery,” he said.
Le Drian on Thursday held talks with President Michel Aoun, Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, and Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri, but some opposition groups boycotted his visit.
He also said French sanctions may get tougher and extended to other politicians if government formation continues to be obstructed.
Paris already took sanction steps against some officials involved in blocking government formation and corruption, including banning entry to France, he said, but gave no names.
Lebanese local media reported that Le Drian met with opposition party representatives based on invitations from the French Embassy in Beirut.
The local news website Almodon, however, said that over a dozen political groups, including the Popular Nasserist Organization party, Lebanese Communist Party, and Citizens in A State movement, refused to meet Le Drian, with some calling France a “colonial state.”
France has sought a role in solving the political deadlock in Lebanon, but many see this as an effort to boost its influence and interests in Lebanon.
Following a massive blast last August at the Port of Beirut, leaving at least 200 Lebanese dead, Macron announced an initiative to form a new government in Lebanon.
Lebanon is still stuck in the formation of a new government amid differences between Prime Minister-designate Hariri and President Aoun.
Lebanon is experiencing a severe economic crisis and a deterioration in living conditions, the worst for the Lebanese people since the five-year civil war that ended in 1990.
*Ahmed Asmar contributed to this report from Ankara