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Lebanon government urges constitutional change to fill vacant presidency

[JURIST] The Lebanese government Monday presented a draft law to amend the Lebanese constitution so that Gen. Michel Suleiman [Xinhua report] can become president of Lebanon. Under the present Lebanese constitution [text, in French] the presidency cannot be held by a sitting military commander [JURIST report]. Anti-Syrian and pro-Syrian members of Lebanon's parliament have been unable to reach an agreement on who will replace former Lebanon leader Emile Lahoud, who left office [JURIST report] at the end of his term on November 23 without a successor in place. Pro-Syrian factions are opposed to the new law; they want the parliament to have veto power over a future coalition government before Gen. Michel Suleiman is appointed. The draft cannot become law unless the Lebanese parliament approves it.

Lahoud purported to declare a "state of emergency" and hand security responsibility to the army in a vaguely worded statement [JURIST report] issued just before leaving office. The emergency was immediately rejected by the government of Prime Minister Fouad Siniora, which 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. Its Article 62 moreover provides that presidential powers revert to the government if the office of president falls vacant. Reuters has more.

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Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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