Beirut: Prime Minister Saad Hariri told supporters here on Wednesday that he will remain in Lebanon and defend the nation's stability.
Hours after suspending the resignation he announced on November 4 from the capital of Saudi Arabia, he spoke to a crowd of roughly 2,000 people gathered outside his residence in central Beirut. "I shall remain and continue with you, so we can be the line of defence for Lebanon, its stability and Arabism," Hariri said, according to Efe news agency.
The Prime Minister also thanked his supporters. "This is a moment of truth with you. This is a moment of history and geography, this is a moment of Saad Rafic Hariri's heart ... who stands among you and for you, to summarize everything in one word: thank you, thank you and thank you!" he said.
"We have nothing more precious than our country. Our principle never changes and our motto remains: Lebanon First!," he concluded. The speech from his balcony came hours after Hariri said he had accepted a request from President Michel Aoun to put his resignation on hold.
Hariri met with Aoun and parliament speaker Nabih Berri following the Independence Day military parade. "I offered my resignation to the president, who wished that I keep it pending to allow for further deliberations on its causes and background," Hariri said.
Hariri, a dual Lebanese-Saudi citizen, arrived back in Beirut late Tuesday after an extended absence, most of it spent in Riyadh. The Lebanese government - from Aoun on down - refused to accept Hariri's Nov. 4 resignation and demanded that he return to Beirut to explain his decision.
Amid suspicions that he was being held against his will in the Saudi capital, Hariri traveled to Paris last weekend and made brief stops Tuesday in Egypt and Cyprus before returning to Lebanon.