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Lebanese president won't accept PM's resignation until he returns


Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Iran-backed Hezbollah militant group, on Sunday accused Saudi Arabia of dictating Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri's resignation, which threatens to throw the Middle East nation into chaos.

Mr Hariri left Lebanon for Saudi Arabia on Friday and resigned on Saturday in a televised statement that took the Lebanese political establishment by surprise.

Nasrallah urged Lebanese not to hold protests in response to the resignation, saying "this will not lead to any result". In a statement, the presidential office said Aoun was informed by Hariri in a phone call of his resignation, adding that the president now awaits Hariri's return to clarify the circumstances of his resignation and proceed accordingly.

He delivered it in a televised address from Saudi Arabia, leading his supporters and detractors in Lebanon to speculate he received orders to step down from Saudi Arabia, widely seen as his patron. In his speech, Hariri suggested he feared for his life and said the climate in the country is similar to the one that existed before his father, the late prime minister Rafik Hariri, was assassinated in 2005.

Al-Hariri placed the blame squarely on Iran and Hezbollah.


Central Bank Governor Riad Salameh sought to calm fears the political turmoil would hit Lebanon's already fragile economy, issuing a statement to reaffirm the stability of its currency, which is pegged against the US dollar. According to the Lebanese constitution, the Prime Minister of Lebanon must be a Sunni Muslim, the President a Christian, and the chairman of the parliament a Shiite Muslim.

Hariri said Hezbollah's policies have put Lebanon "in the eye of the storm". He indeed formed a coalition government that brought together most of Lebanon's political parties, including Hizbollah.

A Saudi minister said on Saturday that Hariri's personal security detail had "confirmed information" about the plot. Thamer al-Sabhan said in an interview with a Lebanese TV station on Saturday that there are "threats against the prime minister and the Kingdom is keen for his security".

Ghasemi dismissed Hariri's "baseless accusations", which he said indicate that "a new scenario" for the region was being drawn.

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