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Last Updated: Friday, 3 September, 2004, 20:16 GMT 21:16 UK
Lebanon extends president's term
Lebanese soldier outside UK and Japanese embassies in Beirut
Syria is the main power broker in Lebanon
Lebanon's parliament has voted to extend the term of its pro-Syrian president by three years.

Deputies backed the constitutional amendment allowing Emile Lahoud to remain in office by 96 votes to 29.

The move came a day after a UN warning to Syria not to interfere in Lebanon. A Security Council resolution demanded that foreign troops leave Lebanon.

The resolution is aimed at Syria, which still has thousands of troops stationed in Lebanon.

The US and French-backed resolution won nine votes, the minimum needed to pass. A Syrian official dismissed it.

The BBC's Kim Ghattas in Beirut says the result in Lebanon is no surprise in a parliament dominated by allies of Syria.

The announcement was followed by celebratory fireworks in the capital.

Intervention

Mr Lahoud is Syria's strongest ally in Lebanon, where about 17,000 Syrian troops are still based.

Syria has been pushing for an extension of the mandate of Mr Lahoud, whose six-year term ends in November. The country's constitution had forbidden presidents from seeking re-election.

Lebanese President Emile Lahoud
Correspondents say Emile Lahoud is Syria's strongest ally in Lebanon

Our correspondent says many Lebanese politicians are opposed to the extension.

They say the decision was made in Damascus and imposed on top Lebanese officials.

Our correspondent says these opponents had hoped international displeasure with Syria's intervention in the elections would encourage more legislators to vote against the bill.

Syria's involvement in Lebanon dates back to 1976, when it sent troops into Lebanon to try to quell a year-long civil war. The conflict raged on for another 14 years.

But the troops have remained and Damascus' military and political influence in Lebanon remains strong. Syria is believed to be the main backer of Hezbollah.


SEE ALSO:
UN backs Lebanon sovereignty call
03 Sep 04  |  Middle East
Move to bolster Lebanon president
28 Aug 04  |  Middle East
Lebanon president 'wants to stay'
26 Aug 04  |  Middle East
Country profile: Lebanon
09 Jul 04  |  Country profiles


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