Presidential election in Lebanon: Jean-Yves Le Drian calls on both political camps to find a “third way”

The French special envoy for Lebanon, Jean-Yves Le Drian, proposes to the two Lebanese political camps to find a “third way” to elect a president, otherwise the country, plunged into political crisis, will be threatened in its “ very existence

Presidential election in Lebanon: Jean-Yves Le Drian calls on both political camps to find a “third way”

The French special envoy for Lebanon, Jean-Yves Le Drian, proposes to the two Lebanese political camps to find a “third way” to elect a president, otherwise the country, plunged into political crisis, will be threatened in its “ very existence.”

Faced with the "denial of reality" from Lebanese officials, five allied countries of Lebanon, France, the United States, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Egypt, are losing patience and threatening to review their financial support to Beirut, says also warns the emissary of the French president, Emmanuel Macron.

For him, the situation is clear: “The vital prognosis of the Lebanese State itself is in jeopardy. The survival of Lebanon depends on it,” he warned in an interview with Agence France-Presse, three months after the start of his mission. With the country's economic bankruptcy, accompanied by inflation "of more than 200%" and endemic unemployment, "politicians are in a state of denial that leads them to pursue tactical games at the expense of the country's interest “, he accuses.

Possible solutions

Since the end of President Michel Aoun's mandate on October 31, 2022, the two opposing camps, the powerful pro-Iranian Hezbollah and its allies on one side, their adversaries on the other, have been working hard to elect their candidate for Parliament even though neither of them holds a majority. “Neither can prevail. Neither solution can work,” insists the special envoy, returning from a third trip to Beirut. Hezbollah supports former minister Sleiman Frangié, close to Damascus, and his adversaries, Jihad Azour, an official of the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

“It is important that political actors put an end to this unbearable crisis for the Lebanese and try to find a compromise solution through a third way,” insists the special envoy.

Among the possible solutions, the name of the army chief of staff, Joseph Aoun, began to circulate, among others. Under Lebanon's confessional power-sharing system, the presidency of Lebanon is reserved for a Maronite Christian. The emissary for his part refuses to put forward a name, noting that he is only a “mediator” and that it is up to the Lebanese to identify this compromise, which he considers possible. “I carried out a consultation which shows that the priorities of the actors can easily be the subject of a consensus,” he assures.

“Total dead end”

At the end of his second trip to Beirut in July, he invited them to present the priorities and skills required, according to them, for the future head of state.

Faced with the “total impasse” in which Lebanon finds itself, Jean-Yves Le Drian proposes a “very short consultation phase” followed by an immediate meeting of Parliament, “in the manner of a conclave”, to elect a president.

The emissary thus joins the initiative of the President of Parliament, Nabih Berri, ally of Hezbollah, already rejected by several components of the opposition to the pro-Iranian party. He plans to go to Lebanon again “in the coming weeks” to begin this sequence, which according to him should last “roughly a week.”