Naharnet

Report: Lebanese Rally Saturday, 'Demand Hariri's Return'

Lebanese will gather in a mass rally on Saturday in a solidarity stand with Prime Minister Saad Hariri who resigned over the weekend amid rumors that he is being held against his will in Saudi Arabia, LBCI reported on Friday.

LBCI said that a sit-in will be held at 2:00 pm on Saturday at Martyrs Square in Beirut to “uncover the ambiguity that has dominated the situation of President Saad Hariri since he announced his resignation and demand his return to Lebanon.”

“We are the free people in this country and we affirm that the dignity of Hariri, as a citizen and prime minister, is the dignity of this nation. Let us postpone the political debates and stand together in Martyrs' Square on Saturday,” read the invitation.

Hariri announced in a televised speech from Saudi Arabia on Saturday that he was stepping down, citing Iran's "grip" on Lebanon and threats to his life.

The shock announcement raised fears that Lebanon -- split into rival camps led by Hariri and the Iranian-backed movement Hizbullah -- could once again descend into violence.

It also raised questions about the fate of Hariri, who also holds Saudi nationality, as it coincided with the announcement in Saudi Arabia of an anti-corruption purge in which dozens of princes, ministers and businessmen have been rounded up.

Lebanon's Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil on Thursday demanded the return of prime minister Saad Hariri from Saudi Arabia.

"Today we demand the return to the nation of our Prime Minister Saad Hariri," tweeted Bassil.

Al-Mustaqbal Movement, led by Hariri, itself issued a statement on Thursday saying Hariri's return was "necessary" and essential for "total respect of Lebanon's sovereignty".

As questions about Hariri's fate mounted, the resigned premier's media office on Thursday said he had met at his "Riyadh" home with the French ambassador to Saudi Arabia Francois Gouyette.

Two days earlier he had met in Riyadh with the US charge d'affaires and with the British ambassador Simon Collins.

On Tuesday, official media in the United Arab Emirates said Hariri visited Abu Dhabi where he met Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan.

Source: Naharnet


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