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Paris Urges Lebanon’s New Cabinet to Take Emergency Measures

Paris Urges Lebanon’s New Cabinet to Take Emergency Measures

Thursday, 23 January, 2020 - 16:15
Lebanon's President Michel Aoun heads the first meeting of the new cabinet at the presidential palace in Baabda, Lebanon January 22, 2020. REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir
Asharq Al-Awsat

France stands ready to help Lebanon tackle a financial and economic crisis which requires the new government of Prime Minister Hassan Diab to take "emergency measures", said the French embassy in Beirut on Thursday.

"The difficult situation in Lebanon requires the new government to prioritize emergency measures and restore confidence," the statement issued on the embassy website said.

On Wednesday, President Emmanuel Macron said Paris will do "everything" to help Lebanon.

"We will do everything, during this deep crisis that they are going through, to help ... our Lebanese friends," Macron said.

Protesters first took to the streets in mid-October in a mass uprising against the country’s ruling elite, which they blame for decades of corruption and mismanagement that have brought Lebanon to the brink of economic collapse. Shortly after the demonstrations, Prime Minister Saad Hariri's government resigned.

Since then, the country has sunk deeper into a political crisis. The Lebanese pound, long pegged to the dollar, has lost up to 60% of its value against the dollar and banks have imposed unprecedented capital controls to preserve liquidity.

Diab vowed on Wednesday to tackle the country's crippling crisis — the worst since the civil war — saying his cabinet will adopt financial and economic methods different than those of previous governments. But analysts said it was highly unlikely he would be able to drum up the international and regional support needed to avoid economic collapse.

Finance Minister Ghazi Wazni said Thursday the government must reassure international donors it is serious about reforms to tackle the financial crisis as it looks initially to secure up to $5 billion in soft loans for basic goods.

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