FRANCE TO HELP BEIRUT
French President Emmanuel Macron promised international aid for Lebanon after a deadly blast tore through the capital two days ago, killing at least 137 people, but said the government should crackdown on corruption and implement economic reforms.
Macron was walking through Beirut's damaged streets as crowds jostled around him chanting for the government to "fall" and asking for international aid, according to Euronews.
He promised locals a "new political pact", and would give the Lebanese government until September 1 to impose it.
During a press conference on Thursday evening, he said French aid to Lebanon will be channelled "directly towards NGOs" and promised to organise an aid conference with the EU in the coming days. But he warned there would be "no blank cheque to a system that doesn't have the confidence of the people."
Macron also called for an independent investigation into the causes of the explosion.
“There is a political, moral, economic and financial crisis that has lasted several months, several years. This implies strong political responsibility,” Macron said, adding that he discussed addressing corruption and other urgent reforms with Lebanon's president and prime minister.
“I came here to show the support of the French nation for the Lebanese people,” Macron said.
The Lebanese government has ordered the house arrest of several Beirut port officials, as investigators probing Tuesday's massive explosion focused on possible negligence in the storage of tons of a highly explosive fertiliser in a waterfront warehouse. Rescuers are still searching for survivors after the blast at the capital’s port, which sent shock waves deep into the city, killing at least 137 and injuring thousands. Victims include several European nationals.
There is mounting anger in Lebanon at the failure of politicians and officials to prevent the disaster.