Lebanon: Hariri ends two-week exile, returns home

Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri attended the 47th celebration of his country’s independence in Beirut on Wednesday after he touched down at Beirut international airport late Tuesday ending two weeks of ‘Saudi-imposed’ exile.

According to press reports, Lebanse President Michel Aoun said Hariri has put his resignation on hold.

The Sunni leader was expected to meet later with his supporters at his resident in down Town Beirut and to attend the customary reception at the presidential palace after the independence military parade.

Hariri, who also holds the Saudi citizenship, took the Lebanese and the world by surprise on November 4 by announcing his resignation in a broadcast from Riyadh, one day after arriving in the Saudi kingdom.

He explained his resignation by assassination threats and picked on Iran and its Lebanon-based ally Hezbollah for spreading strife in the region.

His resignation brought Lebanon at the forefront of regional proxy conflict between Saudi Arabia and Iran, which seemingly exercises influence on Hariri’s one-year old cabinet.

Members of his own Future Movement, President Michel Aoun and Hezbollah believed Riyadh coerced him into resigning and put him under house arrest.

Hariri and Riyadh denied that. The son of assassinated Lebanese Premier, Rafik Hariri, last week promised to return home and to attend his country’s Independence Day celebrations.

During his stay in Riyadh Hariri made a brief visit to the Emirates.

President Aoun has yet accepted his resignation and indicated that he will wait for Hariri to tender the decision to him personally or try to address it.

The resigning Prime Minister arrived to Beirut from Larnaca in Cyprus where he met late at night with President Nicos Anastasiades. Hours before the Cyprus stop, he was in Egypt where he met with President al-Sisi. Over the weekend, he was in Paris and held talks with President Emmanuel Macron.

Lebanese top officials last week said they would use diplomatic channels to secure Hariri’s return. Late last week President Emmanuel Macro sent his foreign minister Le Drian to Riyadh to convince Saudi authorities to let Hariri leave the kingdom for France with his family.

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