French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian from Beirut threatened to tighten sanctions on officials who obstruct the formation of a new government in Lebanon, stressing the need to hold parliamentary elections on schedule next year.

In statements he made on Friday in Beirut - after meetings with Lebanese leaders - Le Drian warned Lebanese officials that they were leading their country to death, adding, "I am here specifically to prevent this kind of mass suicide organized by some."

The Lebanese National News Agency quoted the minister as saying that the sanctions - which were recently announced against those who obstruct the formation of the Lebanese government - are only the beginning of the road on the path of severe sanctions, as he put it.

It also quoted him as confirming that the Lebanese officials did not abide by what they had pledged to French President Emmanuel Macron regarding forming a government of specialists and starting reforms in the country.

Le Drian threatened that if the state of stalemate continues, it may be possible to "tighten or expand these measures" to affect other officials, without mentioning their names, saying that "they could be complemented by pressure tools available to the European Union."

Le Drian with Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri (Reuters)

Bear the consequences of failure

Before arriving in Beirut, Le Drian announced - in a tweet on Twitter - that during the visit he would send a strong-language message to Lebanese officials.

At the start of his new visit to Lebanon - which ends today - the French Foreign Minister held talks with President Michel Aoun, Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri, activists in the movement demanding reform, in addition to meetings that were not disclosed.

Aoun said that the priority is to form a new government, and that reforms are essential for the advancement of his country.

In his statements today in Beirut, the French Foreign Minister said that the political players in Lebanon did not live up to their responsibilities, and did not start working seriously for the country to recover quickly, warning that "unless they act responsibly now, they must bear the consequences of this failure."

The Lebanese News Agency quoted the minister as saying that his country would call on the international community to press for the Lebanese parliamentary elections to be held as scheduled in May of next year.

Because of the differences between the political parties, Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri has been unable to form a government since last October.

France is leading international pressure to form a government of specialists in Lebanon, whose main task will be to address the financial and economic crisis that Lebanon is going through.

French President Emmanuel Macron had visited Lebanon twice since the Beirut port bombing last August, and he repeated the political forces ’demand to form a government that would undertake reform. In September, he announced an initiative that he said all political forces had agreed to, and stipulated the formation of a government within two weeks.

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