Lebanese leader calls for financial assistance

United Nations (United States) (AFP) –


Lebanese President Michel Aoun on Friday called for financial assistance to help his country after the formation of a new government ended a 13-month political crisis.

"We are now counting on the international community to fund vital projects in the public and private sectors to revive economic life," he said in a pre-recorded video address to the General Assembly in New York.

The speech came as French President Emmanuel Macron urged new Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati to undertake "urgent" reforms to help the crisis-wracked country, as the two men met for the first time in Paris.

Mikati told Macron that he was determined to implement reforms "as soon as possible."

Lebanon's new administration will have to quickly reach an agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), as it tries to find a way out of its economic crisis, which the World Bank has described as the worst in the world since 1850.

Lebanon is facing rampant inflation and rationing, especially of electricity and fuel, which is paralyzing daily life.

Many Lebanese accuse the political class, considered corrupt and incompetent, of being responsible for the financial collapse.

President Aoun conceded that a "rentier system", "waste and corruption," that had "aggravated by mismanagement" had "tipped Lebanon into an unprecedented crisis."

He also lamented that the 1.5 million Syrian refugees who fled the civil war to Lebanon had not been encouraged to return home.

"I have asked the international community on multiple occasions to help us ensure the safe return of displaced Syrians to their homes," he said. "Unfortunately no one heard me."