Lebanon Under Emergency Rule

At end of term, Lahoud orders controversial military takeover
By Zach Samalin,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 23, 2007 5:15 PM CST
In this photo released by Lebanon's official news agency, the Lebanese President Emile Lahoud, center, poses with the army commander, Gen. Michel Suleiman, second left, and other officers at the presidential...   (Associated Press)
camera-icon View 3 more images

(Newser) – Lebanon teetered on the brink of chaos tonight as its president declared a state of emergency just hours before his term expired and transferred power to the military. The outgoing Emile Lahoud refused to give power to his rival, PM Fouad Siniora, who immediately rejected the legality of Lahoud's move, the Guardian reports.

The nation will be without a head of state because parliament, split along pro- and anti-Syrian factions, could not elect one. Observers fear the power vacuum will lead to renewed violence, the Guardian notes. Lahoud's statement instructed the military to "preserve security," and troops were in the streets. The US urged both sides to avoid violence.