BEIRUT: A group of European Parliament members Tuesday blamed Lebanon's sectarian political system for its worsening economic and political crisis after a three-day visit to the country.
The five MEPs, who represented the Socialists and Democrats voting bloc within the EU Parliament, said that they would request an urgent debate be held at the Parliament's next plenary session in Strasbourg, to discuss the difficulties facing Lebanon.
In a statement the bloc's Vice President Pedro Marques said, "It's hard to describe the terrible conditions Lebanese people have been forced to live in.
"Thousands have lost their jobs. Hyperinflation. Scarcity of food. Lack of medicine. People obliged to queue for hours for fuel. Water and electricity only a few hours a day, which makes fundamental services such as hospitals impossible to manage."
Marques continued that "there is a clear culprit for all of this: The sectarian political system that has been shown to be the primary problem for the future of this country.
"In a country where stability means the confirmation of the unacceptable status quo, the Lebanese people deserve a real paradigm change. The current power sharing system, the many abuses and widespread corruption must end."
Since August 2020 Lebanon has been managed by a caretaker government, while the country’s economy has collapsed. Efforts to form a new government have been hindered by political infighting. Over 70 percent of the population is thought to be living under the poverty line, and is coping with severe shortages of essentials.
President Michel Aoun and Prime Minister-designate Najib Mikati are thought to be close to a Cabinet formation deal, after a monthlong process that has been stunted by disagreements between the pair over the allocation of Cabinet positions and ministerial portfolios.
Isabel Santos, who visited with the delegation, said the "conflicting political interests and selfishness risk plunging the country and its people in an unprecedented political, economic, and social crisis. People must have the right to decide their future through free and fair elections. It is crucial that all the elections due will be held in 2022."
Santos also urged accountability for the Beirut Port explosion which destroyed swaths of the capital and killed 218 people.
"This culture of impunity and lack of accountability must end," she said.
"This must also be true for the judicial powers, who have the right and the moral duty to run an independent investigation into the terrible blast at the port of Beirut and finally secure justice for the families of the victims."