After hitting a dead end in efforts to defuse the crisis sweeping Lebanon, Saad al-Hariri informed a top Hezbollah official on Monday he had no choice but to quit as prime minister in defiance of the powerful Shi’ite group.
The decision by the Sunni leader shocked Hussein al-Khalil, political advisor to Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, who advised him against giving in to protesters who wanted to see his coalition government toppled.
The meeting described to Reuters by four senior sources from outside Hariri’s Future Party captures a critical moment in the crisis that has swept Lebanon for the last two weeks as Hariri yielded to the massive street protests against the ruling elite.
The resignation has left a political vacuum and paralysed a state in need of urgent action to steer Lebanon out of an economic crisis that is hitting all Lebanese hard, including Hezbollah’s Shi’ite constituency.
Officials at Hariri’s office and Hezbollah could not immediately reached for comment.
The meeting which began at 8 p.m. at Hariri’s Beit al-Wasat residence in central Beirut did not last long.
“I have made my decision I want to resign to make a positive shock and give the protests some of what they want,” Hariri told Khalil, according to one of the sources.
Khalil sought to change his mind. “These protests are nearly over, breathing their last breaths, we are next to you, steel yourself,” Khalil told Hariri.