Hizbullah ‘Open’ to Political Reforms in Lebanon
Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah said in a speech on Sunday that the Shi’ite group was “open” to a French proposal for major political reforms in Lebanon. The proposal followed a massive August 4 explosion at Beirut’s port causing at least 190 deaths and 6,500 injuries, and months of anti-government protests blaming government ineptitude and corruption on the country’s sectarian political system. The protests, which broke out last October following the announcement of new taxes to help cover a crushing foreign debt, led to the resignation of the government of Saad Hariri. The explosion at the port, blamed on the negligent storage of some 2,700 tons of highly volatile ammonium nitrate, led to the resignation of the government of Hassan Diab, who had replaced Hariri. In his Sunday speech, Nasrallah mentioned French President Emmanuel Macron, who visited Lebanon in the immediate aftermath of the blast and called for a new political order. The Hizbullah leader said any discussion on political reforms must “have the will and consent of the various Lebanese factions.” He previously had rejected any foreign-imposed reforms. Macron was the first world leader to visit after the port explosion. He will return this week to again press for reforms.