Macron names French ex-minister special envoy to Lebanon amid presidential crisis

Macron names French ex-minister special envoy to Lebanon amid presidential crisis
France's president has appointed a personal envoy to Lebanon to help end the country's presidential vacuum amid a desperate economic crisis.
2 min read
Le Drian served as French foreign minister for five years up to 2022 [Getty/archive]

French President Emmanuel Macron has named his former foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian as his personal envoy for Lebanon, in a new bid to end the country's political crisis, the presidency said on Wednesday.

Le Drian will be charged with helping to find a "consensual and efficient" solution to the crisis which has intensified after the deadly 2020 Beirut port explosion, said a presidential official, asking not to be named.

The official said Le Drian, who served for five years as foreign minister up to 2022, had vast experience in "crisis management" and would be heading to Lebanon "very soon".

Lebanon is facing a political crisis as factions struggle to agree on a new president while an economic crisis has seen the living standards of most Lebanese plummet over the last four years.

France, the former colonial master, retains some sway in Lebanon but has to contend with a host of other powers, notably Saudi Arabia, who are influential among the Sunni community, and Iran which can count on the Tehran-backed Shia militant group Hezbollah.

"The situation remains difficult in Lebanon" with a need to "get out of both the political crisis and the economic and financial difficulties," the official said.

There is an urgent need "to bring together a form of consensus" to allow the election of a president of Lebanon, which has been without a head of state for more than seven months because of the political deadlock.

Macron won praise from observers for heading to Beirut in the immediate aftermath of the explosion to push Lebanon's leaders into radical reform. But he now faces pressure to follow up on these promises.

Former president Michel Aoun's term expired at the end of last October with no successor lined up.

Since then, there have been 11 parliamentary votes to try to name a new president, but bitter divisions have prevented anyone from garnering enough support to succeed Aoun.

Lebanese lawmakers on Sunday nominated Jihad Azour, an International Monetary Fund regional director and former minister, for president, in a new bid to find a solution.