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Lebanon: PM Saad Hariri Holds Off Resignation

Lebanon’s PM Saad Hariri has decided to “suspend” his resignation, which sparked a crisis when he announced it while in Saudi Arabia two weeks ago.

Saad Hariri said President Michel Aoun had asked him to “put it on hold ahead of further consultations”.

The two men held talks a day after Saad Hariri flew back to Lebanon.

The prime minister has denied that Saudi Arabia forced him to resign and detained him in an attempt to curb the influence of Iran and its Lebanese proxy Hezbollah.

Hezbollah is part of a national unity government formed by Saad Hariri in 2016.

Saad Hariri said after November 22 meeting at the Baabda presidential palace: “Today I presented my resignation to his excellency the president, and he asked me to temporarily suspend submitting it and to put it on hold ahead of further consultations on the reasons for it.

“I expressed my agreement to this request, in the hope that it will form a serious basis for a responsible dialogue.”

Image source Wikimedia

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He said Lebanon required “exceptional effort from everyone” at this time in order to “protect it in confronting dangers and challenges”.

The prime minister also reiterated the need to remain committed to Lebanon’s state policy of “dissociation regarding wars, external struggles, regional disputes and everything that harms internal stability” – an apparent reference to the activities of Hezbollah.

The Shia Islamist movement acknowledges fighting alongside government forces in Syria and Iraq, and arming Palestinian militants. However, it denies advising and sending weapons to rebel forces in Yemen’s civil war and militants in Bahrain.

Saad Hariri was embraced by President Michel Aoun as the two men attended an independence day military parade in Beirut. The president, a Maronite Christian former army commander and ally of Hezbollah who publicly accused Saudi Arabia of detaining the prime minister, appeared to tell him: “Welcome back!”

Saad Hariri left Riyadh for France at the weekend with his wife and one of his three children. He flew to Lebanon on November 21, stopping in Egypt and Cyprus en route.

On November 20, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah said in a speech that still considered Saad Hariri prime minister and that the militant Shia Islamist movement was “open to any dialogue and any discussing that happens” in Lebanon.

Saad Hariri announced his resignation in a televised address on November 4 from Riyadh, in which he accused Iran of sowing “discord, devastation and destruction” in the region and said he sensed there was an assassination plot against him.

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