Lebanon's ex-PM Saad Hariri announces withdrawal from political life
Former Lebanese prime minister Saad Hariri announced on Monday he would not run in upcoming parliamentary elections and was withdrawing from political life.
The 51-year-old three-time premier, who was propelled into politics by his father Rafic's assassination in 2005, announced his decision during a press conference in the capital Beirut.
The Sunni Muslim leader said he was "suspending his work in political life" and urged fellow members of his Future Movement party to leave the political arena.
A tearful Hariri, who was first elected to parliament in 2005, also announced he would not run in the legislative polls due in May, citing "Iranian influence and international upheaval".
Iran backs Hezbollah, a Shia movement that wields considerable influence in Lebanese politics.
Lebanon is grappling with an economic crisis that has seen its pound lose 90 percent of its value on the black market.
Food prices have quadrupled and around 80 percent of the population now lives below the poverty line, according to the United Nations.
Potential donors have repeatedly said any restoration of aid is dependent on the establishment of a viable government committed to rooting out corruption.