Lebanese president Emile Lahoud leaves Baabde palace midnight Friday without successor

His order to the army to take control of security and declaration of state of emergency is pronounced unconstitutional by the anti-Syrian Fouad Siniora government which announces it will stay in power. debkafile‘s Middle East sources say the power vacuum in Beirut creates a volatile situation. Hectic negotiations have been in progress since Lebanese parliament speaker Nabih Berri postponed the presidential vote from Friday until Nov. 30.
Persistent rumors in Beirut speak of an emerging deal between the US, Syria, Lahoud, the pro-Western majority bloc and Hizballah which enabled the incumbent president to go quietly Friday night and avoid steps that could promote violence. debkafile‘s Middle East sources say this deal amounts to Washington’s acceptance of the key Iranian-Syrian-Hizballah role in choosing Lebanon’s next president and dominating politics in Beirut. The deal also brings Syria to the Annapolis conference next week after Washington’s bowed to the Damascus demand for Golan and lands claimed by Hizballah for Lebanon to be added the agenda.
Deputy Parliament Speaker Farid Makari stressed the outgoing president’s sole constitutional duty was to go home and hand temporary powers over to the government. The anti-Syrian ruling bloc has a slim majority, but not enough to force its will on the house. The pro-Syrian minority boycotted the vote and denied the house a quorum.

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