“The Lebanese authorities must now implement the political and economic reforms demanded by the Lebanese people and which will enable the international
community to act effectively alongside Lebanon
in the reconstruction process,” Macron said at the opening of the conference.
Three decades after the end of the of a 15-year civil war, the country remains divided along sectarian lines. The government, backed by the pro-Iranian militant Hezbollah group and its allies, has struggled to carry out reforms demanded by the international
community as the price for a financial bailout. Former Foreign Minister Nassif Hitti, who resigned just prior to the explosion, warned the country was at risk of becoming “a failed state.”
Lebanon has arrested 20 people since the blast, which was caused by 2,750 tons of explosive materials left for six years at the country’s main port despite repeated safety warnings. Most of those arrested were port officials and protesters continue to demand accountability at the highest levels.
Anti-government demonstrators in Beirut on Saturday managed to gain entry to the ministries of foreign affairs, economy and energy as well as the Association of Banks in Beirut. The army evacuated them at the end of a long day of street confrontations in which dozens of protesters were injured.
Participants in the aid conference include the UK, Germany, the European Union and the World Bank, as well as Gulf states Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, a French official told reporters Saturday. No estimate was given for the size of the aid package and the official said there would be “no blank check to the Lebanese government,” with pledges channeled through the EU, World Bank and UN to ensure that local NGOs and the Lebanese Red Cross gets funds.
Qatar earmarked $50 million in aid to Lebanon and will unveil plans to help rebuild Beirut in the coming days, the country’s ruler Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani said on Al Jazeera TV.
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