Hariri said he had accepted President Michel Aoun’s wish for him to suspend his resignation to allow for more consultations on the move.
Hariri announced he was standing down on November 4 while in Saudi Arabia, saying he feared his life was in danger. Lebanon said it could not accept his resignation until he returned to the country.
Aoun said at the time Hariri was being held against his will
in the Saudi capital, Riyadh — a claim Hariri denied — and speculation swirled in Lebanon that he was being held hostage.
Hariri finally returned to Beirut on Tuesday
, where his first stop was the grave of his slain father, former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.
Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri walks down the steps of an airplane upon arriving at the Rafik Hariri International Airport in Beirut, Lebanon, Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2017. Hariri has returned to Beirut more than two weeks after announcing while in Saudi Arabia that he had resigned his post. (AP Photo/Bilal Hussein)
On Wednesday he attended an Independence Day military parade in Beirut alongside the President before meeting with him at the presidential palace.
There was a festive atmosphere at Hariri’s political headquarters in Beirut as supporters gathered Wednesday to welcome him back. Music played, people danced and more than a few Saudi flags were on show.
“I can’t tell you the joy we felt when we heard him say the words ‘put on hold.’ His existence in itself is security,” Manar Aaqoub, a 26-year-old banker, told CNN.
“There’s a major hope that he’ll stay,” she added. “A country without Saad is no country. There would have been a great sadness if he had resigned.”
The political crisis has stoked fears of conflict between the Saudi-backed government faction and Hezbollah, a powerful Iranian-backed Shia militant group whose political wing is the most powerful bloc in Lebanon’s fractured coalition government.
The day after his resignation, Hassan Nasrallah, the head of Hezbollah, suggested that Hariri was not a free man,
and that his statement had been dictated by Riyadh.
Saudi Arabia had strongly backed both Saad Hariri and his father Rafik in its bid to grow its influence in Lebanon by trying to counter Hezbollah’s expanding authority.
The sense of uncertainty in Lebanon was fueled by the delay in Hariri’s return to the country.
Hariri visited Cairo and Cyprus on Tuesday before flying into Beirut. While absent from Lebanon he also traveled to Gulf states and met with French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris.
Source: Samcilla/BjrliveFM.com/22117/Credit: CNN
CNN’s Tamara Qiblawi reported from Beirut and Laura Smith-Spark wrote from London. CNN’s Sarah Sirgany in Abu Dhabi and Hamdi Alkhshali contributed to this report.