Lebanon's Hariri makes comeback on Twitter

2011-11-14 21:32

Beirut - Lebanon's opposition leader Saad Hariri, who has been absent from the country for nearly eight months, has chosen Twitter as a comeback tool to reach out to followers and take on his rivals Syria and Hezbollah.

The Western-backed ex-premier, who left Lebanon in April after the powerful Shi'ite militant party toppled his government, popped up on Twitter earlier this month, creating an instant buzz and attracting about 25 000 followers so far.

"Well it's about time to make this more up close and personal," Hariri tweeted on November 3. "You [will] be hearing from me more often and I'll be around as much as I can."

Since then, he has devoted more than an hour every evening to respond to questions about politics, food, movies or sports, much to the delight of his constituents but also to jabs by detractors.

The tweets are somewhat of a novelty in a country where citizens have little direct access to their leaders.

Responding to a question on the revolt in Syria, the 41-year-old Hariri at the weekend said he thought it best if the regime of President Bashar Assad, which is battling an eight-month revolt, collapsed.

"I think it will be the best thing for the region," he tweeted.

The billionaire heir has also turned to Twitter to reject accusations by the Syrian government that he is funding anti-regime protesters.

"I am standing with them politically and peacefully, unlike other political parties who deploy with the shabiha," Hariri said, referring to Assad's armed civilian thugs.

Commenting on the Syrian- and Iranian-backed Hezbollah, the most powerful political and military force in Lebanon, he said he was in favour of disarming the Shi'ite party.

He also said that if he were still in power he would have arrested four Hezbollah members charged in connection with the 2005 murder of his father, ex-premier Rafiq Hariri.

"We only believe in weapons held by the Lebanese state," he tweeted. "We never were and we'll never be a militia."

Hezbollah forced the collapse of Hariri's government in January after he refused to cut ties with the Netherlands-based tribunal probing his father's murder.

Hariri has since all but disappeared from the political scene and has lived between Saudi Arabia and France, giving no clear explanation for his absence, which has been attributed to security concerns but also to major financial troubles.

His "Houdini act", as one blog put it, has even his supporters questioning his political commitment and the impact his absence has had on the opposition.

"The man has well and truly left the building ...," wrote political blogger Qifa Nabki.

Political commentator Michael Young said Hariri's coalition appears "gripped by confusion" and had better define a clear national role for itself.

"Hariri has been abroad for months, an affront to those who elected him," Young wrote in a recent commentary. "His money problems are genuine and have not yet been resolved, taking a toll on his patronage network and political authority.

"The former prime minister is not out yet, however if his occultation lasts much longer, his leadership will melt."

But Hariri in his tweets has sought to downplay concerns on whether he ever plans to return to Lebanon, saying there was nothing he wished more.

"I will never leave you guys, I will be back," he tweeted on Sunday.

Read more on:    hezbollah  |  twitter  |  saad hariri  |  bashar assad  |  rafiq hariri  |  lebanon  |  syria  |  social networks  |  uprisings
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
 

Numsa prepares for life after Cosatu

Numsa has not only reiterated its call for President Jacob Zuma to resign but it is also preparing for life outside of Cosatu, a report states.

 
 

Latest elections multimedia

Why Jack Parow wants you to vote on 7 May
The ad the SABC doesn't want to air
Elections 2014 in one cartoon
This year's election posters
 
Traffic
Lottery
 
  • Thursday Sir Lowry's Pass - 05:35 AM
    Road name: Old Sir Lowrys Pass Road
    TRAFFIC LIGHTS not working at Bezweni Road
  • Thursday Cape Town - 05:35 AM
    Road name: Buitengracht Street
    TRAFFIC LIGHTS not working at Waterkant Street
 
More traffic reports...
 

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Escape winter, head to Mauritius

Escape winter by spending 7 nights in Mauritius' tropical bliss from R13 215 per person sharing. Includes return flights, airport transfers and accommodation. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Get many eggs in one basket!

Gaming bundles: 2 Super Hits games for R99, 3 Disney games for R99 and more + exclusive accessory bundles only available on kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

25% off bestselling books!

The Real Meal Revolution by Tim Noakes, Jeffrey Archer’s Be Careful What You Wish for, Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor E. Frank and many more titles. Shop now!

Up to 25% off electronics

Buy top electronics and save up to 25%. Such as kalahari.com’s 1# selling product the gobii eReader, Patriot X Porter flash drive, Asus Nexus 7” 3G tablet, Samsung Galaxy SIII, Lenovo G580 Notebook and many more. Shop now!

DStv HD PVR Decoder now R949

The DStv HD PVR Decoder has further revolutionised the television experience with lifelike viewing, sharper images, more vibrant colours and precision picture quality. Now R949, save R550. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 30% off appliances & homeware

Save up to 30% on appliances and homeware this Easter! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now.

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Huawei B683 21Mbps 3G Wireless Router

Huawei B683 21Mbps 3G Wireless Router The B683 wireless gateway (hereinafter...

From R1671.00

I'm shopping for:

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

You may be good at organising events but they do take their toll on your energy levels. You may need some time out today just to...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.