| 14 April 2024, Sunday |

French FM: We don’t have a preferred candidate for Lebanon’s Presidency

French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna stressed on Thursday that her country does not have a preferred candidate for the presidency in Lebanon.

The election of a president is a priority for France, especially given the dire economic crisis Lebanon is enduring, she added during a meeting with her Lebanese counterpart Abdalla Bou Habib in Riyadh.

The FMS were in the Saudi capital to take part in the ministerial meeting of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS.

Colonna announced that French President Emmanuel Macron has appointed former Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian personal envoy to Lebanon where he will be active in speeding up the process to elect a new president.

Macron led international efforts after a massive explosion that killed more than 200 people in Beirut in 2019 and destroyed swathes of the capital city. But his efforts afterwards to resolve the political and economic crisis that followed failed.

“In the spirit of friendship that binds France to Lebanon, the President of the Republic continues to act in favor of a solution to the institutional crisis and the implementation of the reforms necessary for the recovery of this country,” the French presidency said in a statement.

“He appointed Jean-Yves Le Drian … as his personal representative in order to discuss with all those who, in Lebanon and abroad, can contribute to breaking the deadlock.”

Le Drian was foreign minister between 2017-2022 and had been in charge of putting several of Macron’s initiatives for Lebanon into motion and coordinating with the French presidency.

A former Socialist lawmaker and defense minister for five years under President Francois Hollande between 2012-2017, Le Drian is deemed a political heavyweight and is the latest politician to be brought back into Macron’s fold over recent months.

After almost four years, France has failed to use its historical influence in the country to push its squabbling politicians to carry out economic reforms that would unlock vital foreign aid.

Most recently it has faced criticism for its role behind the scenes as Lebanon attempts to find a new president.

Lebanon has had no head of state since President Michel Aoun’s term ended at the end of October, deepening institutional paralysis in a country where one of the world’s worst economic crises has been festering for years.


  • Asharq Al-Awsat