Paris Restricts Entry for Lebanese Involved in Political Crisis, Corruption
France has begun imposing entry restrictions on certain Lebanese figures as a sanction for their role in Lebanon's political crisis or corruption, Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said on Thursday.
His comments were the first official confirmation from Paris that it has imposed sanctions against Lebanese officials over their failure to reform the country in the wake of the deadly August 2020 Beirut port explosion.
"On a national basis, we have started to implement restrictions on access to French territory against personalities involved in the current political blockage or involved in corruption," he said in a statement following a visit to Malta.
"We reserve the right to adopt additional measures against all those preventing an exit from the crisis, and we will do so in coordination with our international partners," added Le Drian, without naming the figures the measure targeted.
He said discussions were already underway with France's European partners on what "instruments" could be used to increase pressure on Lebanese political figures who are "obstructing a way out of the crisis."
"Those responsible for the blockage must understand that we will not stand still," he added.
French President Emmanuel Macron called for radical reform in Lebanon after the deadly Beirut port blast and has expressed exasperation at the lack of change in the former French mandate territory.
Lebanon's prime minister-designate Saad Hariri and President Michel Aoun have failed repeatedly to agree on a new cabinet after months of deadlock, as the country sinks deeper into economic crisis.
A steep depreciation of the Lebanese pound along with an explosion of poverty and unemployment have eroded purchasing power and fuelled anger among the population.
The outgoing government of premier Hassan Diab resigned in the wake of an August 4 explosion at Beirut's port that killed more than 200 people and sparked protests against the entrenched ruling class.
Earlier this month, an open letter published in France's Le Monde daily signed by more than 100 Lebanese civil society figures urged Macron to freeze suspect assets held by Lebanese officials.
The letter said that a "political-economic mafia is responsible for the misery, hunger and insecurity from which more and more Lebanese suffer."