US urges Lebanon to elect corruption-free president

The United States has urged Lebanon to swiftly elect a president who is “free of corruption” and capable of uniting the nation, which is currently facing one of the worst economic crises in modern history. The US State Department emphasised that Lebanon’s problems can only be resolved internally and not by the international community.

Six months after President Michel Aoun’s departure, Lebanon remains without a head of state as Parliament has failed to elect a president during 12 sessions, with no candidate achieving the necessary threshold. Speaker Nabih Berri has not reconvened MPs to vote on the matter for months, highlighting the extent of the deadlock.

In a statement, State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller urged Lebanon’s political leadership to “move expeditiously to elect a president” and enact the essential reforms to rescue the country’s economy. The US has remained uninvolved in the selection process but stresses the need for a corruption-free candidate who can advocate for transparency and accountability, put the interests of the Lebanese people first, and implement critical economic reforms, including those required to secure an International Monetary Fund (IMF) programme.

Lebanon has been grappling with political and economic crises, exacerbated by widespread corruption amongst its political elite. Despite adopting the National Anti-Corruption Strategy in 2020, implementation has stalled due to the ongoing political deadlock.

In April, Lebanon secured a draft staff-level agreement from the IMF for approximately $3 billion in aid. However, the IMF has emphasised the need for urgent reforms, including restructuring the financial sector, introducing fiscal reforms, and combating corruption and money laundering.

Image Credit: AFP

Tags : Lebanon