Three US Congress members began a tour of Lebanon on Monday, urging political leaders to elect a president and form a government amid the country's economic and political crises, according to a Grand Serail statement.
Since former president Michel Aoun left office on Oct. 31, Lebanon has been in an executive power vacuum with no president and no new cabinet.
California representatives Mark Takano and Katie Porter, as well as Colin Allred of Texas — all three of them members of the Democratic Party — visited caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati and caretaker Foreign Affairs Minister Abdallah Bou Habib Monday morning, the Grand Serail stated. They were accompanied by the US Ambassador to Lebanon, Dorothy Shea. The group went to Ain al-Tineh in early Monday afternoon to speak with Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri.
Getting Lebanon back on the road to development
During their meeting with Mikati, the delegation "congratulated the Lebanese state on the success of the delineation of the southern maritime border," according to a statement published by the Grand Serail.
The statement added that the members of Congress also welcomed "the efforts to bring to a successful conclusion the bills requested by the International Monetary Fund and which have been transferred to the Parliament, hoping that they will be quickly adopted." They reportedly also called for the election of a president "as soon as possible."
"Lebanese legislators and politicians must make every effort to put Lebanon back on the road to development, which cannot be done without fighting corruption and passing the laws demanded by the IMF," they were quoted in the statement as having said.
President, government and reforms
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Twitter that "the delegation reaffirmed the importance of electing a president of the Republic and forming a government," as well as implementing "the IMF recommendations and launching the reforms" necessary to receive a financial aid package.
The IMF reached a preliminary agreement with Lebanon in April to provide $3 billion in assistance over four years, provided that economic recovery reforms are implemented locally.
Washington is not the only international capital to urge the Lebanese authorities to take action: Paris and Riyadh in particular regularly call for Lebanon to respect its constitutional deadlines and carry out reforms.
Since the end of September, Lebanon's Parliament has convened seven sessions to elect a president, without success.