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Lebanon's Amal 'surprised' after Macron hit at Shia groups over talks failure

The French president criticised Amal and Hezbollah for blocking talks to resolve Lebanon's ongoing political and economic crisis
Macron has questioned Hebollah's role in derailing proposals to form a unity government after the Beirut blast (AFP)

Lebanon's Amal movement said it was shocked and surprised after French President Emmanuel Macron accused the Shia Muslim party of triggering the collapse of talks to form a new government. 

Prime Minister Mustapha Adib quit on Saturday less than a month after taking on the role, after he failed to form a new government. Adib's resignation derailed French plans to unite Lebanon's political leaders as the country's economic crisis continues to deepen. 

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"I am ashamed of Lebanon's political leaders," Macron told a news conference in Paris on Monday. 

"The leaders did not want, clearly and resolutely, to respect the commitments made to France and the international community. They decided to betray this commitment."

Macron also for the first time questioned the role of Hezbollah, a political and paramilitary Lebanese movement, and the influence of its ally Iran in Lebanon, calling on Hezbollah to lift its ambiguity in the political arena.

"The movement, while it respects the role French President Macron has played, is surprised by comments he made that included accusations and holding [Amal and Hezbollah] especially responsible" for stalling the process, Amal said in its statement.

Adib was picked on 31 August to form a cabinet after Macron's intervention secured a consensus on naming him in a country where political power is divided along sectarian lines.

France has pressured Lebanon's political class since an explosion in Beirut's port, largely attributed to longstanding corruption and negligence, destroyed large swathes of the capital on 4 August.

Under the French roadmap, the new government would take steps to tackle corruption and implement reforms needed to trigger billions of dollars of international aid to fix an economy crushed by huge debt.

But there was deadlock over a demand by Lebanon's two main Shia groups, Amal and Hezbollah, that they name several ministers, including finance, who will have a big role in drawing up economic rescue plans.

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