French President Emmanuel Macron named former Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian as a special envoy to Lebanon, in a new attempt to end the political crisis in this country, according to what the French presidency announced today, Wednesday.
A statement issued by the French presidency stated, “In line with the spirit of friendship that binds France to Lebanon, the President of the Republic continues to work to resolve the institutional crisis there, and to implement the necessary reforms for the advancement of this country. The President has appointed Mr. Jean-Yves Le Drian, the former minister, as his personal representative from the For dialogue with everyone who can, in Lebanon and abroad, contribute to breaking the stalemate. To this end, Mr. Le Drian will visit Lebanon soon, then present a report on the results of his mission, and present proposals for action to both the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the President of the Republic.
An official in the French presidency told “Agence France Presse” that Le Drian (75 years), who served as French Foreign Minister for five years until 2022, will be assigned, as a man with extensive experience “in crisis management”, to help find a “consensual” solution. And effective” for the Lebanese crisis, which worsened, especially after the Beirut port explosion on August 4, 2020.
The chancellor added that Le Drian “plans to go to Lebanon very soon,” noting that Macron had asked him to “quickly assess the situation” in this country.
After he was Minister of Defense under Socialist President Francois Hollande (2012-2017) before joining the government of President Emmanuel Macron and heading the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (2017-2022), Le Drian has moved away from the political scene since the last presidential elections in France in 2022.
Macron and Le Drian’s visit to Beirut in 2020, after the port explosion
“The situation is still difficult in Lebanon,” the presidential advisor told AFP, in light of the need to “get out of the political crisis and the economic and financial difficulties at the same time.”
According to Paris, there is an urgent need to “reach a kind of consensus” to allow the election of a president for Lebanon, which has been witnessing a presidential vacuum for more than seven months due to political obstacles in a system with complex balances, and to speed up the implementation of “necessary reforms.”
Since the end of former President Michel Aoun’s term at the end of October, the Lebanese parliament has failed, over the course of 11 sessions, to elect a president, amid a division between a party that supports Hezbollah and another that opposes it, and discrepancies within each group, and the presence of independents.
The Speaker of the Lebanese Parliament, Nabih Berri, called the deputies to a new voting session on June 14.
The Elysee Palace said: “The fact that Parliament is in session, this date should be useful … and no opportunity should be missed,” referring to the competition between two candidates, Suleiman Franjieh and Jihad Azour.
The French presidency added that getting out of the crisis “requires more than an agreement on a name.” The Elysee Palace has confirmed for months that it has no candidate to succeed Michel Aoun.