Macron's move reshuffles cards, opposition sees it as favorable
French President Emmanuel Macron’s decision to name a special envoy for Lebanon “reflects the French leader’s positive response to the urgent demands by the Vatican, Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi and several Lebanese forces as to changing the nature of the French team tasked with Lebanon’s presidential file,” a prominent Lebanese opposition leader said.
The decision “practically stands for ending the services of presidential adviser Patrick Durel, who is considered to be the godfather of the settlement calling for electing (Suleiman) Franjieh as president in return for naming Nawaf Salam as premier,” the leader added, in remarks to al-Akhbar newspaper.
The French move means that Paris will have “a new vision for the dialogue with the Lebanese forces and will shelve the previous mission, which was focused on convincing everyone with endorsing the settlement,” the leader said.
The decision “reshuffled the cards anew and perhaps it will open the door to a new round of dialogue with the Lebanese forces to avoid descent into a major clash,” the leader went on to say.
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 French 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."
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, the official added.