US urges all to remain calm amid political chaos in Lebanon

Bush administration urged all parties in Lebanon to remain calm Friday and refrain from violence after the country's parliament was unable to elect a new president as required by the constitution. In a statement released just minutes after Lebanon's outgoing pro-Syrian President Emile Lahoud declared a state of emergency and ordered the army to take control, the State Department appealed for the Lebanese military and security services to uphold the rule of law and for political actors to negotiate. It made no reference to Lahoud's emergency declaration, however, and said Washington understood that when his term expires at midnight Friday, "the Lebanese Cabinet will temporarily assume executive powers and responsibilities until a new president is elected by Lebanon's Parliament." "This is the procedure stipulated by the Lebanese constitution and will ensure that the government is able to continue conducting its business without interruption," State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said in the statement.