State of emergency

As we say in Flemish: the bullet is through the church… Lahoud has just now (4 hours before the end of his term at midnight) declared the state of emergency and handed over power to the army, i.e. to Suleyman. Strictly constitutionally, the executive power should have gone to PM Siniora’s government, but Lahoud has a point when he argues that ever since the withdrawal of Hezbollah and Amal’s ministers in december 2006, Siniora’s government is unrepresentative (of the shiites, i.e. some 40% of the population) and therefore illegal. Siniora’s cabinet in turn has declared Emile Lahoud’s declaration illegal:

“The president of the republic declares that because a state of emergency exists all over the land as of Nov. 24, 2007, the army is instructed to preserve security all over the Lebanese territory and places all the armed forces at its disposal,” presidential spokesman Rafik Shalala said.

The statement instructed the army “to submit the measures it takes to the Cabinet once there is one that is constitutional,” he said.

Saniora’s government, which has been meeting in Beirut as the announcement was made at the presidential palace in suburban Baabda, rejected the announcement.

“It has no value and is unconstitutional and consequently it is considered as if it was not issued,” said a government spokesman, who asked not to be identified because an official announcement has not yet been made by the prime minister.

The spokesman said the constitution stipulates that the Cabinet — not the president — has the authority to declare a state or emergency and to give the army the authority to take over security.

“Any decision not issued by the Cabinet has no constitutional value,” the spokesman told The Associated Press.

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