Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri Announces Sudden Resignation

Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri Announces Sudden Resignation

In a move that caught many by surprise, Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri announced his resignation while on a trip to Saudi Arabia on Saturday.

Hariri accused Iran and its Lebanese ally Hezbollah of sowing strife in the Arab world in his resignation statement earlier on Saturday.

The prime minister's resignation will raise tensions in the country and has thrown its political future into uncertainty.

"We are living in a climate similar to the atmosphere that prevailed before the assassination of martyr Rafik al-Hariri", he said in the broadcast from the Saudi capital Riyadh.

Hariri became Lebanon's prime minister in 2016 in a deal that also brought in Hezbollah ally Michel Aoun as the country's president.

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Hariri's "repetition of unreal and baseless accusations... against Iran show that the resignation is designed to create tensions in Lebanon and in the region", Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Ghassemi said.

Hariri was also locked in a standoff with Hezbollah over funding for the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, which is prosecuting his father's murder and had implicated Hezbollah members.

"I announce my resignation as a prime minister", he said.

The government have managed to avoid the country being embroiled in the worst of the conflict taking place in neighbouring Syria. He met Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, the kingdom's predominant leader, on October 30.

In this file photo from 2015, people stand in front of an image of Rafik al-Hariri as they mark the 10th anniversary of the former prime minister's assassination near his grave in downtown Beirut.

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He argued it was the latest manifestation of the tug-of-war between Saudi Arabia and Iran and called for intensifying diplomatic efforts to solve the feud.

"When I took office, I promised you that I would seek to unite the Lebanese, end political division and establish the principle of self-sufficiency, but I have been unable to do so", he said.

An official at the US State Department said it was following the situation closely and noted that Hariri had been a "strong partner in building strong national state institutions and in the war on terror". "He says that Hezbollah now controls the state in Lebanon".

It was not immediately clear whether Hariri meant to return to Lebanon.

In tweets after meeting Hariri, al-Sabhan described it as "long and fruitful meeting" that resulted in agreements over many issues that concern the Lebanese. Without Hariri in power, the United States and Saudi Arabia lose their main partner in the Lebanese government.

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"In recent years, Hezbollah has used the power of its weapons to impose a fait accompli", he said, reading a speech from behind a desk.

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