Middle East

Hariri held against will in Saudi Arabia, says Lebanese president

Lebanon's president said on Wednesday that Saudi Arabia was holding prime minister Saad Hariri against his will, the first time he had said so publicly, and called it an act of aggression against Lebanon.

"Nothing justifies Hariri's lack of return for 12 days. We therefore consider him detained," said Michel Aoun on Twitter. "This is a violation of the Vienna agreements and human rights law."

This is a violation of the Vienna agreements and human rights law

– Michel Auon, Lebanese president

Hariri resigned as Lebanon's prime minister on 4 November in a video broadcast from Saudi Arabia and has yet to return to Lebanon. Aoun has said he will not accept the resignation until Hariri returns to Lebanon and submits it in person.

"We cannot wait longer and lose time. Affairs of state cannot be stopped," Aoun also said on Twitter.

Hariri on Wednesday posted on Twitter in response: "I want to repeat and stress that I am perfectly fine and I will return, god willing, to dear Lebanon as I promised you, you'll see," he wrote on Twitter.

In response to Pres. Aoun’s tweet that he is detained in #Saudi, #Hariri replied “let me repeat & stress that I am very very fine & I will be back inshallah to our beloved Lebanon like I promised you. You will see!” https://t.co/oC2lzkZkYg

— SaadAbedine (@SaadAbedine) November 15, 2017

Hariri yesterday said in another Twitter post, his first since his resignation, that he would would be back in Lebanon in the "coming days". However, he said in a Sunday interview that he would be back in "two to three days".

Aoun had said on Sunday that Hariri's freedom was being restricted in Riyadh, casting doubt over anything that Hariri says.

Aoun's comments on Wednesday went further, saying for the first time that Hariri was being held.

Saudi Arabia denies holding Hariri against his will or putting pressure on him to resign. In his first public comments since his resignation, an interview given on Sunday to a television station he owns, Hariri said he was free to travel and planned to return to Lebanon within days.

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