[JURIST] Lebanon slid into constitutional crisis Friday as pro-Syrian President Emile Lahoud [official website] purported to declare a "state of emergency" and hand security responsibility to the army in a vaguely worded statement issued just before leaving office midnight at the end of his term without an elected successor in place. Earlier Friday, anti-Syrian and pro-Syrian factions in Lebanon's parliament failed in a last-ditch effort to agree on a new president and postponed for a fifth time a planned session to formally elect a candidate, who under Lebanon's constitution [text, in French] must be a Maronite Christian.
Lahoud's emergency was immediately rejected by the government of Prime Minister Fouad Siniora, who noted through a spokesman that Lebanon's constitution did not permit the president to declare a state of emergency without obtaining the approval of the government under Article 65 [text]. Its Article 62 [text] moreover provides that presidential powers revert to the government if the office of president falls vacant. Lahoud, however, has long considered the Senoria government itself unconstitutional [JURIST report] after six pro-Syrian Shiite ministers quit the cabinet late last year. AFP has more.