Lebanese president: I won't cede power to Saniora

Lebanon's president warned Saturday he will not cede power to the US-backed prime minister if parliament fails to elect a successor, a move that could plunge the country into a constitutional vacuum. President Emile Lahoud, who is allied with Syria, insisted on a new "national unity" Cabinet that would choose a successor acceptable to the country's deeply divided political factions, said the president's spokesman, Rafik Shalala. But Prime Minister Fuad Saniora, who is already facing an opposition campaign to oust him, has vowed to take over if the president's office becomes vacant. "If there is no election for some reason ... the government will assume responsibility and its main preoccupation will be to ensure election of a president," Saniora said in an interview with al-Arabiya last week.