The Bush administration is urging all parties in Lebanon to stay calm and avoid violence as the country's political situation heads toward chaos.
The statement came just minutes after Lebanon's outgoing president declared a state of emergency and ordered the army to take control of the country. No successor has been chosen for President Emile Lahoud, who is leaving office at the end of the day. The government of Prime Minister Fuad Saniora (rejected the emergency declaration, calling it unconstitutional.
In a statement, the State Department appealed for the Lebanese military and security services to follow the rule of law. It also called on political parties to negotiate.
The statement says it's the U.S. understanding that when Lahoud's term expires at midnight, the Lebanese cabinet will "temporarily assume executive powers" until Parliament elects a new president. It made no reference to Lahoud's emergency declaration.