Resigned PM says he is ‘free’, will return to Lebanon
Beirut, (AFP): Saad Hariri pledged today he would return to Lebanon from Saudi Arabia “very soon,” in his first television interview since his shock resignation as prime minister eight days ago.
In an exclusive interview from Riyadh with his party’s Future TV, Hariri brushed aside rumours that he was under de facto house arrest in Saudi Arabia.
“I am free here. If I want to travel tomorrow, I will,” Hariri told journalist Paula Yaacoubian.
“I will return to Lebanon very soon to initiate the necessary constitutional procedures,” Hariri said.
Hariri, who also holds Saudi citizenship, stepped down in a televised broadcast from Riyadh on November 4, a move that sent shockwaves throughout Lebanon and the region.
Lebanese President Michel Aoun has yet to formally accept Hariri’s resignation and has said he wants to meet him in person to discuss the situation.
Just hours before Hariri’s interview on Sunday, Aoun blasted the “obscure circumstances” around the resigned prime minister’s stay in Riyadh.
In a statement from his office, Aoun said “Hariri’s freedom has been restricted and conditions have been imposed regarding his residence and the contacts he may have, even with members of his family.”
In his announcement last week, Hariri accused Iran and its Lebanese ally Hezbollah of taking over his country and destabilising the broader region, saying he feared for his life.
Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah said on Friday that Hariri was “detained in Saudi Arabia” and “banned from returning to Lebanon”.