Lebanon’s president will not accept the resignation of prime minister Saad al-Hariri until he returns to Lebanon, palace sources said on Sunday, delaying for now politically difficult consultations on his successor.
He cited an assassination plot against him and criticized the regional role of Iran and its Lebanese ally Hezbollah however Lebanon’s army said on Sunday it had not uncovered any plot.
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.
Saudi-owned newspaper Asharq al-Awsat cited unnamed sources close to Hariri as speculating that he would probably remain outside Lebanon because of the security threat against him.
In Lebanon’s sectarian system the president must be a Maronite Catholic, the prime minister a Sunni and the speaker of parliament a Shi‘ite. Hariri is Lebanon’s most influential Sunni politician.
His father, Rafik al-Hariri, was prime minister after Lebanon’s 1975-1990 civil war and was assassinated in a car bombing in 2005.
A U.N.-backed tribunal has indicted five Hezbollah members for the killing but the group denies any involvement.
Saudi media have published reports of a plot to assassinate Hariri in recent days.
A Saudi minister said on Saturday that Hariri’s personal security detail had “confirmed information” about the plot. 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”.