Aoun holds consultations on government’s future with Lebanese political leaders

Press TV – Lebanese President Michel Aoun has held talks over the future of Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri’s government with the country’s political leaders after the latter decided to suspend his shock resignation, which he announced in Saudi Arabia earlier this month.

A senior Lebanese official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the consultations at the presidential palace in Baabda were aimed to help Hariri’s administration “get back on its feet.”

“The consultations might end with Lebanon reaffirming the ministerial statement that implicitly includes disassociation,” the official pointed out.

Leading Druze politician and leader of the Progressive Socialist Party, Walid Jumblatt, said after meeting Aoun that it was important to talk about “disassociation”, and how to achieve it.

He said it would be wise not to bring up the question of weapons in the hands of Hezbollah resistance movement in discussions.

Christian leader Samir Geagea also told reporters that his political party, known as Lebanese Forces, will not resign from the government.

“Disassociation should be in action and not through words. This means actively keeping out of regional conflicts,” he said.

Aoun separately met on Monday with Mohammad Raad, who chairs Hezbollah’s political wing Loyalty to the Resistance Bloc in the Lebanese parliament, who later told reporters they discussed “reactivating” the government.

The Lebanese prime minister arrived in Beirut late on November 21, more than two weeks after unexpectedly announcing he had quit his post. All political factions in Lebanon had called on him to return back home.

Saad al-Hariri, who suspended his decision to resign as prime minister, talks at the presidential palace in Baabda, Lebanon, on November 22, 2017. (Photo by Reuters)

Top Lebanese officials and senior politicians close to Hariri had earlier said that he had been forced to resign, and that Saudi authorities were holding him captive.

Aoun had also refused to accept Hariri’s resignation.

Hariri announced his resignation in a televised statement on November 4, citing many reasons, including the security situation in Lebanon, for his sudden decision. He also said that he sensed a plot being hatched against his life.

Hariri accused Iran and Lebanese Hezbollah resistance movement of meddling in Arab countries’ affairs; an allegation the two have repeatedly denied.

Hariri became prime minister in 2016 after serving another term between November 2009 and June 2011.

Saad al-Hariri, who announced his resignation as Lebanon’s prime minister from Saudi Arabia, is seen at Beirut–Rafic Hariri International Airport in Beirut, Lebanon, on November 21, 2017. (Photo by Reuters)

Iran has vehemently rejected Hariri’s remarks, saying his resignation and rehashing of the “unfounded and baseless” allegations regularly leveled by Zionists, Saudis and the US were another scenario to create new tensions in Lebanon and elsewhere in the Middle East.

“The sudden resignation of Mr. Hariri and its announcement in another country are not only regrettable and astonishing, but also indicative of him playing in a court that the ill-wishers in the region have laid out,” Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi commented.