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Lebanon: State of Emergency..Or Not

Categories: Middle East & North Africa, Lebanon, Breaking News, Elections, Governance, Politics

Lebanon is in a political limbo [1] after parliament failed to elect a successor for President Emile Lahoud [2] today.
Hours before the end of his term, Lahoud ordered the army to take charge of security, leaving rival factions responsible for naming a president and leading to international calls for calm.
Lebanon's bloggers were quick to react, with M Bashir describing [3] the situation as follows:

…so basically the situation can be summarized as follows: effectively at midnight tonight, Lebanon is without a president; the government (that is, granted its legitimacy is not contested) is resigned, the parliament’s session for electing a new president is postponed till the 30th of November, and the army is in charge of the security of the land.

Mustapha further clarifies [4] the situation on the ground and writes:

An important clarification for outside observers who are overstating Mr. Lahhoud’s statement.
The outgoing Lebanese President did NOT declare a state of Emergency or Martial law. The statement that caused the confusion was this: “the threats that require a state of emergency prevail over Lebanon”.
What Mr. Lahhoud effectively did was assign the Army to take care of the security on the ground. A redundant procedure given that the Seniora government had already done that.
If anything, the statement by the soon-to-be ex-President reveals his incapacity to do anything more serious. All comparisons with Pakistan, Jordan, or Egypt, where the Army heavy-handedly represses the people, should immediately be removed from your heads.

Liliane, meanwhile, wonders [5] whether what is happening in her country is constitutional .. or not. She further adds that the day was the “most contradictory” Lebanon has ever witnessed for the following reasons:

1- 109 Parliament members including opposition arrive to the parliament at noon.
2- Session postponed till November 30th in order to elect a president agreed upon from all sides
3- Post the canceled session, deputies talk back to each other through the media
4- The Cabinet is in session since 6:30pm discussing the latest updates
5- The president (till 11:59pm on November 23, 2007) Emile Lahoud declares a state of emergency starting 24 November 2007
6- The Cabinet denies it, based on the constitution, explaining that only the cabinet after passing it to the parliament as well and the majority's signature can declare such state. (That was at 8:30 pm today)

Blacksmith Jade also sheds light on the situation here [6].

Stay tuned for more blogger updates from Lebanon.