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Son of murdered prime minister calls on Hezbollah to exit Lebanese politics

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Links: President Michel Aoun with Iranian minister Mohammad Javad Zarif

Links: President Michel Aoun with Iranian minister Mohammad Javad Zarif

Links: President Michel Aoun with Iranian minister Mohammad Javad Zarif

The son of Rafic Hariri, Lebanon's murdered former prime minister, has called for the Iranian-backed militia Hezbollah to end its involvement in Lebanese politics and allow the country to rebuild following the devastating explosion at Beirut port, which killed more than 200 people.

The son of Rafic Hariri, Lebanon's murdered former prime minister, has called for the Iranian-backed militia Hezbollah to end its involvement in Lebanese politics and allow the country to rebuild following the devastating explosion at Beirut port, which killed more than 200 people.

Bahaa Hariri (54) whose father died in a car bombing in 2005, said the blame for the tragedy at Beirut port lay with Hezbollah, which he said controlled the port, and Michel Aoun, Lebanon's Maronite Christian president.

"President Aoun is a very ardent supporter of Hezbollah and I am disappointed our president stands where he stands," Mr Hariri said.

"Hezbollah was in control of the storage facility. We had very explosive products stored in the port for six years, even though there were very many warnings.

"The utter carelessness that led to this situation is appalling."

The explosion was caused when 2,750 tons of highly explosive ammonium nitrate stored at the port ignited due to a fire nearby.

"Hezbollah has no place in Lebanon's future," said Mr Hariri, who is campaigning for wholesale reform of Lebanon's political system.

"Our country has paid a very high price for their actions. They have brought Lebanon only sanctions, war and suffering.

"Communities must stand up in favour of a new nation that does not include militias and allows Lebanon to stand on its own feet, free from all external influence," he added.

Mr Hariri, a businessman, insisted he had no political ambitions of his own, but wanted to emulate his father's role in rebuilding Lebanon following a 15-year-long civil war.

"I never, ever want to be prime minister," he said.

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His brother, Saad, was prime minister until he was forced to resign last year following widespread anti-corruption protests.

Abyss

"We were in a very good situation [before] my father died," Mr Hariri said.

"We went from bad to worse and now we are staring into the abyss."

Mr Hariri was speaking prior to the publication of a long-awaited judgment of a UN-sponsored criminal trial of four Hezbollah members accused of involvement in his father's assassination 15 years ago.

The trial, conducted in the Netherlands, was held in absentia because Hezbollah refused to hand over the suspects. A guilty verdict would heap even more pressure on the Iran-backed militia, which many Lebanese had blamed for the blast in Beirut on August 4.


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