UN chief calls for end to political deadlock in Lebanon

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for an end to the political deadlock in Lebanon and the launch of necessary reforms.

In his opening remarks to a ministerial meeting of the International Support Group for Lebanon on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly high-level week on Wednesday, Guterres called for the swift formation of a government in the country following the collapse of the government as a result of the devastating August 4 blast in the port of Beirut, Xinhua news agency reported.

The designation of Mustapha Adib as prime minister is a step in the right direction. This should be followed by the swift formation of a government able to meet the legitimate aspirations and needs expressed by the Lebanese people and to quickly deliver on key reforms and fundamental changes, said Guterres. “Without such action, the country’s ability to recover and rebuild will be jeopardized, adding to the turmoil and hardship for the Lebanese people.”

Adib has yet to form a government. Wednesday’s virtual meeting was attended by caretaker Prime Minister Hassan Diab.

Guterres also asked for the launch of reforms.

Now is the time for transformation in a variety of sectors, including financial, banking and energy, as well as customs, public procurement and state-owned enterprises. Social reforms, including social protection, are also needed to ensure the well-being of all Lebanese, particularly the most vulnerable, he said.

Ultimately, reforms are not a goal in itself. They should respond to the legitimate demands of the Lebanese people for greater welfare, accountability, transparency, and the capacity to tackle corruption. That is essential to regain the trust of the Lebanese citizens, he said.

“I want to reiterate my solidarity with the Lebanese people in these difficult times and my hope that Lebanese political leaders will rise to the occasion,” said Guterres. “This is the time to prioritize national interest and put people before politics. This is the time to work together to build a better future for Lebanon.”

Guterres and French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian co-chaired Wednesday’s meeting. The International Support Group for Lebanon brings together Britain, China, France, Germany, Italy, Russia and the United States, together with the United Nations, the European Union and the Arab League.