Naharnet

France Says Hariri Should be Free to Go Home

French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said Tuesday that Prime Minister Saad Hariri must be able to return to Lebanon from Saudi Arabia to end uncertainty caused by his shock resignation.

"What's at stake is Mr. Hariri being able to return home freely to clarify his situation in line with the Lebanese constitution," Philippe told French parliament, saying his resignation, announced in Saudi Arabia, had caused "a period of uncertainty."

Hariri tweeted earlier on Tuesday that he is “doing very well” and that he will return from Saudi Arabia to Lebanon within days.

In his first TV interview since he announced a surprise resignation from Riyadh on November 4, Hariri said Sunday he will return to Lebanon to seek a new settlement with President Michel Aoun and Iran-backed Hizbullah.

Hariri, looking downcast and tired, denied he was being held against his will in the kingdom and said he was compelled to resign to save Lebanon from imminent dangers, which he didn't specify.

He held back tears at one point and repeated several times that he resigned to create a "positive shock" and draw attention to the danger of siding with Iran in regional conflicts.

Hariri sounded less belligerent in Sunday's interview than he did during the resignation announcement.

A political crisis has gripped Lebanon since Hariri read his televised resignation from Saudi Arabia in which he accused Iran of meddling in Lebanon in a vicious tirade that was uncharacteristic of the usually soft-spoken premier.

Aoun and other Lebanese officials have refused to accept Hariri's resignation until he returns to the country.

Lebanese officials have insisted the resignation was forced by Hariri's Saudi patrons and that he is being kept in the kingdom against his will. Hariri denied this on Sunday, stressing that he is “free.”

Source: Agence France Presse, Naharnet


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