News / Middle East

    Hariri Seeks Lebanese Prime Minister's Office Again

    Lebanese caretaker Prime Minister Saad Hariri speaks during a press conference with a poster of his slain father Rafik Hariri in the background, in Beirut,  Jan. 20, 2011
    Lebanese caretaker Prime Minister Saad Hariri speaks during a press conference with a poster of his slain father Rafik Hariri in the background, in Beirut, Jan. 20, 2011

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    Lebanon's caretaker prime minister, Saad Hariri, has confirmed he will stand for prime minister again, despite calls from the opposition for a different head of government.

    In a televised speech, Saad Hariri said he has made every effort to avert strife in the country and is willing to make a compromise to preserve peace and stability in Lebanon, but the opposition has remained steadfast in its unwillingness for him to return as prime minister in a new government.

    VOA's Margaret Besheer in Beirut speaks with Middle East Monitor Host Susan Yackee:

    He says his party will take part in the consultations for prime minister.  The president will preside over the process starting Monday in parliament and his bloc will commit to his candidacy then.

    He said the most important thing is that all the Lebanese parties should adhere to the constitution

    Mr. Hariri's government collapsed last Wednesday, when 11 ministers from the Hezbollah-led opposition withdrew from the Cabinet.

    Hezbollah is angry that Saad Hariri, who is the son of former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri, is supporting the work of a U.N.-backed tribunal for Lebanon, which is investigating his father's 2005 assassination.

    The Hague-based tribunal's prosecutor handed over a draft indictment to the pre-trial judge on Monday.  The indictment was not made public, but it has been widely reported that members of Hezbollah may be implicated in the massive truck bombing that killed Rafiq Hariri and 22 others.

    In his 20-minute address, Mr. Hariri said the country is at a crossroads, and warned against a return to violence.  He said one drop of Lebanese blood is more precious than anything else.   He also said his faction has not taken to the streets because they are committed to the constitution.

    Mr. Hariri said he regretted that recent Saudi-Syrian mediation efforts had failed, because he had seen that initiative as a way to end the impasse.

    Opposition parliament member Nabil Nicolas told Hezbollah's al-Manar website after the speech, Mr. Hariri did not say anything new and failed to address the U.N. Tribunal and other difficult issues.

    Wednesday, Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal said he is abandoning efforts to reconcile the parties that he had pursued since tensions began rising in September in anticipation of the tribunal's indictment.

    The Saudi-Syrian effort has been taken up by Turkey and Qatar, whose foreign ministers were in the Lebanese capital this week.   

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