Sunday 18 August 2019

Lebanese PM puts resignation on hold after president asks him to reconsider

Saad Hariri, left, returns to Beirut, more than two weeks after announcing his resignation in Saudi Arabia (AP)
Saad Hariri, left, returns to Beirut, more than two weeks after announcing his resignation in Saudi Arabia (AP)
Lebanese prime minister Saad Hariri (AP)

Lebanon's prime minister Saad Hariri has said he is putting his resignation on hold following a request from the president to reconsider.

In surprise conciliatory comments from the presidential palace, Mr Hariri said he is putting Lebanon's interest first and looks forward to a "real partnership" with President Michel Aoun.

He said he presented his resignation to Mr Aoun at the presidential palace, but responded to the president's request to give him more time for consultations, "hoping it will constitute a serious introduction for (national) dialogue."

Mr Hariri announced his resignation in a televised address from Saudi Arabia on November 4, stunning the nation and plunging the country in turmoil.

Top Lebanese officials accused Mr Hariri's patron, Saudi Arabia, of forcing his resignation and detaining him in the kingdom for days.

"Our beloved nation needs in this critical period exceptional efforts from everyone to protect it in the face of dangers and challenges," said Mr Hariri in a statement from the presidential palace.

He reiterated the need for Lebanon to remain neutral on regional disputes and conflicts "and all that undermines internal stability and brotherly relations with Arab brothers."

Mr Hariri's mysterious televised resignation from Saudi Arabia sparked a political and diplomatic crisis as Lebanese officials accused the Gulf kingdom, which is feuding with Iran for influence in the region, of forcing the Sunni, Saudi-aligned politician to resign and detaining him for days.

The Lebanese rallied around Mr Hariri, unanimously calling for his return from Saudi Arabia in what became an embarrassment to the kingdom.

Earlier on Wednesday, Mr Hariri participated in Independence Day celebrations, his first official appearance since his resignation.


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