Lebanon’s President Emile Lahoud has left office – and left a power vaccuum behind him. Lahoud’s mandate ran out last night. But with no one to replace him, the country is now in unchartered waters that risk becoming very turbulent. One of Lahoud’s final acts was to declare a state of emergency.
“There should be a new president as soon as possible, because this government is illegitimate, unconstitutional and non-consensual,” he told the watching media. “Even if the US and the whole world recognize it, it’s illegitimate and they know it.”
It was the final railing of a pro-Syrian president against his western-backed government. Supporters of that government have been celebrating Lahoud’s departure. But it is in a bitter power struggle with the Damascus and Tehran-backed opposition over who should succeed him.
International efforts to find a compromise have failed. And Lahoud’s declaration of a state of emergency hasn’t help, says sports minister, Ahmad Fatfat.
“The president is not allowed to take such a decision because it’s the responsibility of the government and parliament, and the army is doing its job a usual with the approval of the parliament “
With parliament not even scheduled to meet again to discuss a new president until next Friday, the army is maintaining a high profile in Beirut and other cities to try to ward off any unrest.