Resigned PM says he is 'free', will return to Lebanon
Resigned PM says he is 'free', will return to Lebanon
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Fayez Nureldine AFP- Getty Images
14 November, 2017, 13:22
Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri resigned in a speech from Saudi Arabia on November 4 and has yet to return to the country, sparking a political crisis.
Saad Hariri sent shock waves through Lebanon when he unexpectedly quit as prime minister a week ago, though on Sunday he rejected rumours he was under de facto house arrest in Riyadh, insisting he was "free" and would return home soon. France, Germany and the European Union yesterday called for an end to external interference in Lebanon, after the country's prime minister resigned unexpectedly, triggering rumours he was being held against his will in Saudi Arabia.
Hariri's resignation, announced from Riyadh, and its aftermath have put Lebanon at the forefront of regional rivalry between Iran and Saudi Arabia Riyadh in recent days.
"We can not continue while Iran and a political party are interfering", Hariri said, in his first public comments since his resignation.
Foreign Minister Gibran Bassil's first stop on Tuesday is in Brussels, followed by Paris.
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"I have resigned. I am going to Lebanon very soon and I will resign in the constitutional manner", he said.
The EU's diplomatic chief Federica Mogherini said that a meeting of the bloc's foreign ministers in Brussels yesterday had voiced unanimous support for Lebanon's "unity and stability".
President Aoun has said he will not accept Hariri's resignation until he returns to the country, and Lebanese authorities have said they consider the government to still be legitimate.
In his resignation speech, Hariri cited fear of an assassination plot backed by Iran, and sternly criticized the Islamic Republic and its Lebanese terror proxy Hezbollah for fueling conflict throughout the Middle East.
Hariri's resignation plunged Lebanon into a new political crisis and thrust it into the front line of a regional power play between Sunni Saudi Arabia and Shi'ite Iran that has also buffeted Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Bahrain.
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Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah said on Friday that Hariri was "detained in Saudi Arabia" and "banned from returning to Lebanon". He vowed to return to Lebanon "within days". "Whatever he chooses, we are with him".
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