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06 November 2017, 01:08 | Marta Robbins
Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri Announces Sudden Resignation - Reports
Speaking from the Saudi capital Riyadh, Hariri cited Iran's "grip" on the country and threats to his life.
The 47-year-old Sunni politician's resignation comes less than a year after his government, to which Hezbollah's political wing belongs, was formed.
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.
Hezbollah's leader urged Lebanese citizens to refrain from protesting in a bid to stave off escalating tensions.
President Michel Aoun, a political ally of Hezbollah, will wait to accept or reject Hariri's resignation until he returns to Lebanon to explain his reasons, sources at the presidential palace said.
Lebanon is politically divided, with one camp supporting Hariri, a Sunni Muslim closely allied with regional Sunni powerhouse Saudi Arabia, and the other favoring Hezbollah, which has controversially deployed many of its fighters into neighboring Syria to support President Bashar Assad.
"We are living in a climate similar to the atmosphere that prevailed before the assassination of martyr Rafik al-Hariri", he said Saturday, referencing his late father who was killed in 2005, according to Reuters.
He said "legitimate questions" were being asked in Lebanon over whether Hariri had been detained in Saudi Arabia, adding that Lebanon's political leaders expected him to return to the country on Thursday "if he is allowed" to travel.
Hezbollah was founded with Iranian support in 1982 to resist the Israeli invasion of Lebanon and has since emerged as a regional power in its own right.
Lebanon has mostly managed to wall itself off from Syria's strife, with a flourishing tourism industry, as NPR's Ruth Sherlock reported recently.
Several Hezbollah members are being tried in absentia for the killing by a United Nations -backed tribunal in The Hague, Netherlands.
Hariri said Hezbollah's policies have put Lebanon "in the eye of the storm".
Ghasemi dismissed Hariri's "baseless accusations", which he said indicate that "a new scenario" for the region was being drawn. 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".
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