The term of current president, Emile Lahoud, expires at midnight on 23 November. However, MPs failed to convene for the vote earlier in the day, with the pro-Syrian opposition failing to turn up in sufficient numbers for the poll to achieve a quorum.

Parliamentary speaker Nabih Berri says the vote will now be held on 30 November. However, with no sign that either side will give ground to resolve the deadlock, fears persist that Lebanon could disintegrate into violence between rival administrations, as occurred during the country’s 15-year civil war.

Tension between the pro-Western government and the opposition has blocked repeated attempts to hold a vote. The election of a president requires a two-thirds majority, but the government’s majority is too small for its preferred candidate to gain sufficient votes.

The country’s constitution dictates that Lahoud’s powers transfer to Prime Minister Fouad Siniora if his term expires without a new president in place.