EU, and other backers call on Lebanese leaders to act
Belgium, (Brussels Morning Newspaper) The EU and other international backers called on Lebanese leaders to take action and resolve the political crisis that is paralyzing the country.
The International Support Group for Lebanon (ISG), comprising the EU, the US, and other international backers, warned that the situation in Lebanon was unsustainable, according to Reuters reporting on Thursday.
The ISG stressed that it was “gravely concerned about the ramifications of a prolonged presidential vacuum,” stressing that “the status quo is unsustainable” as it prevents Lebanon from addressing the crisis.
The group called on Lebanese leaders to adopt new regulations to stabilize the country and restore confidence, noting that Beirut was “yet to conclude a financial program.”
The central bank of Lebanon announced plans on Wednesday to sell US dollar reserves at 70,000 Lebanese pounds per dollar, while the official exchange rate from 1 February was still at 15,000.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) previously stressed that Lebanon has to unify multiple exchange rates in order to access the aid package worth USD 3 billion.
The IMF warned last year that Beirut was “very slow” to implement reforms despite the severity of the situation in the country.
The ISG expressed concern over the lack of progress in the investigation into the 2020 Port of Beirut explosion that killed hundreds and injured thousands of people and caused property damage estimated at USD 15 billion.
The investigation was on hold for more than a year due to political interference and the judge investigating the blast announced plans to resume the probe in January this year.
However, political pressure is preventing the court system from proceeding as the judge’s decision includes charges against the current and former political elite.
Lebanon is spiraling deeper into an economic crisis as the local currency has lost more than 90% of its value since the start of the Lebanese liquidity crisis in 2019.
The Lebanese pound was pegged at roughly 1,500 per US dollar at the end of 1997, which the central bank upped to 15,000 last month, but announced plans this week to sell US dollar reserves at 70,000.
Former President Michel Aoun’s term expired in October last year and Lebanon has not found a successor, with the parliament struggling to pass regulations and the caretaker cabinet’s powers restricted.