EU lawmakers call for Lebanon sanctions if new government fails

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Lebanese national flag flutters in Beirut

BRUSSELS (Reuters) -The European Union should still consider imposing sanctions on Lebanese politicians who block the progress of the new government, the EU's parliament said on Thursday, calling Lebanon's crisis a man-made disaster.

This week, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell told the European Parliament that, while Lebanon's economic model was broken, the moment for sanctions had passed because politicians formed a government on Sept. 10.

Taking note of Lebanon's formation of a government after more than a year of political deadlock, the European Parliament in Strasbourg issued a resolution saying EU governments cannot yet release pressure on the country.

The parliament voted 575 in favour, 71 against and with 39 abstentions.

The parliament "deeply urges Lebanese leaders to keep their promises and be a functional government", the parliament's resolution, which is non-binding, said of Lebanon's new government that has vowed to tackle one of the world's worst economic meltdowns in history.

EU lawmakers warned: "the introduction of targeted sanctions for obstructing or undermining the democratic political process remains an option."

The EU agreed in June to prepare travel bans and asset freezes for Lebanese politicians accused of corruption and obstructing efforts to form a government, financial mismanagement and human rights abuses.

No names have been formally identified, but with financial collapse, hyperinflation, electricity blackouts and food shortages blighting the country, the parliament hopes its call will focus the minds of Lebanese politicians, many of whom have assets in the EU.

(Reporting by Robin Emmott; Editing by Alex Richardson)

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