In Brief

Lebanese PM Saad al-Hariri ‘suspends’ shock resignation

U-turn comes after he announced he was quitting in Saudi Arabia and then disappeared

Lebanon’s Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri has “suspended” his resignation in Beirut after almost three weeks of political turmoil and claims that he was held against his will in Saudi Arabia.

Hariri offered his resignation to President Michel Aoun today, but said that he was asked to “put it on hold ahead of further consultations”.

“I have agreed to concede to this request in the hope it will provide a serious opening for responsible dialogue so that we can address the issues of dispute and the repercussions it has had on our Arab brothers,” Hariri said, according to the Financial Times.

He returned to Lebanon last night after spending two weeks in Riyadh, before making brief trips to the United Arab Emirates, France, Egypt and Cyprus.

“Aoun and much of the political leadership accused Riyadh of detaining Hariri and forcing him to resign as part of Saudi Arabian efforts to escalate pressure on Iran, its regional rival,” says the FT.

Shortly after his resignation, Hassan Nasrallah - the head of Hezbollah, Lebanon’s Iranian-backed political party - suggested Hariri was not a free man, and that his statement had been dictated by Saudi Arabia.

Questions remain over whether Hariri’s resignation will stand or whether he might withdraw it. A resignation brings down the government, and the president then has to engage in consultations to select a new prime minister to form a cabinet.

“In Lebanon, divided for more than a decade between a pro-Saudi camp and a Tehran-backed alliance, that process typically takes months of political wrangling,” says The Daily Telegraph.

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