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Lebanon crisis: US, Saudi Arabia, France call on officials to elect president without delay

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The US, France, and Saudi Arabia called on Lebanon’s rulers to elect a new president without any delay after Michel Aoun’s term ends next month.

In a joint statement from the three countries, which wield significant influence in Lebanon, they voiced their support for Lebanon’s sovereignty, security and stability.

Analysts and observers believe Lebanon will once again enter a period of presidential vacuum, similar to the case before the election of Aoun in 2016.

“It is critical to elect a President who can unite the Lebanese people and work with regional and international actors to overcome the current crisis,” the joint statement read. “We call for the formation of a government capable of implementing the structural and economic reforms urgently needed to address Lebanon’s political and economic crises, specifically those reforms needed to reach an agreement with the International Monetary Fund.”

On Wednesday, the IMF lambasted Lebanon’s political elite for failing to implement needed reforms in order to unlock international funds to help the country climb out of its unprecedented economic and financial crisis.

Washington, Paris and Riyadh said they were willing to work jointly with Lebanon to support the implementation of these reforms and acknowledged the “critical role” of the Lebanese Armed Forces and the Internal Security Forces.

The two security agencies are the “legitimate defenders of Lebanon’s sovereignty and internal stability” the three countries said, in an apparent jab at Hezbollah. The Iran-backed group as well as Palestinian refugees in camps are the only sides to have weapons outside of the state’s control.

“We affirm the need for the Lebanese government […] to the Taif Agreement which enables the preservation of national unity and civil peace in Lebanon,” Wednesday’s joint statement read.

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