President Emile Lahoud left the presidential palace Friday with no successor elected, after rival political groups failed to vote for a new president. Rival factions in parliament have been unable to come up with a compromise candidate to fill the post.
Lahoud's last decree was to declare a state of emergency and hand over all security responsibilities to the Lebanese military.
In a sign of the potentially dangerous power vaccuum now facing the small country, Labanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora responded by saying that the outgoing president had no constitutional authority to make such decisions.
Washington stepped into the fray with a State Department press release asserting that Siniora's cabinet would "temporarily assume executive powers and responsibilities until a new president is elected by the Lebanese parliament."