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Lebanon's president: Saudi Arabia is detaining PM

By Allen Cone
Lebanon's president: Saudi Arabia is detaining PM
A poster depicting Saad Hariri, who resigned as Lebanese Prime Minister, reads in Arabic that "We are all with you" hangs on a street in Beirut, Lebanon, on Tuesday. Photo by Wael Hamzeh/EPA

Nov. 15 (UPI) -- Lebanon's President Michael Aoun said Wednesday that Saudi Arabia has detained Prime Minister Saad Hariri since his resignation in Riyadh on Nov. 4.

"Nothing can justify Hariri's return after 12 days. We therefore consider him to be detained and detained, contrary to the Vienna Convention and the Bill of Rights," Aoun posted on Twitter in Arabic.

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He added: "It is not possible to decide on a resignation submitted from abroad, so go back to Lebanon to submit his resignation or to refer to it or to discuss its reasons and ways to deal with it."

Aoun, who has not accepted his resignation, said he must return "because the affairs of the state can not be stopped."

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Hariri will fly to Paris "in the coming days," the office of France's president said Wednesday. French President Emmanuel Macron invited Hariri to France after speaking with Hariri and Saudi Arabia Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Saudi Arabia's government has denied holding him against his will or pressuring him to resign.

In a television interview Sunday, Hariri said he can leave on his own accord and left Lebanon because he was in fear of being assassinated like his father in 2005.

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Hariri, who was named prime minister in November 2016 and also held the position between 2009 and 2011, said in his resignation broadcast from Riyadh that "we are living in a climate similar to the atmosphere witnessed before the assassination of Prime Minister Rafik Hariri."

On his Twitter account Tuesday, Hariri wrote in Arabic that he was "a thousand good" and planned to return to Lebanon in two days "God willing."

On Wednesday, he again said he was fine and will return "like what I promised you."

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Hariri, a dual national with Saudi Arabia, formed a unity government with Shia Islamist Hezbollah movement, an Iranian proxy that Riyadh considers a terrorist group.

Aoun is a Maronite Christian, former army commander and an ally of the Hezbollah.

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