BEIRUT: The U.N. Security Council urged Lebanon to fill the vacancy in the presidency "as soon as possible" after a meeting on Middle Eastern issues Thursday.
The president of the council issued a statement expressing disappointment that the election to replace former President Michel Sleiman didn't take place on time and calling on Parliament to "uphold Lebanon's longstanding democratic tradition" and make sure the election occurs "without external interference."
The council also paid tribute to Sleiman, who completed his six-year term Sunday without a replacement, plunging the country into a political vacuum.
The statement called on the Cabinet to continue the work of governing while Parliament works to elect a new president.
"The Security Council reiterates its full support for the Government of Lebanon to discharge its duties during this interim period in accordance with the Constitution, until the election of a new president," it said.
A scheduled Cabinet session Friday will be the first since Sleiman's term ended, testing the ability of Prime Minister Tammam Salam's government to assume the powers of the presidency during the vacuum.
Several Christian ministers have suggested that they may boycott Cabinet sessions until a new president is elected, although sources close to Salam told The Daily Star that the premier was expecting a smooth meeting Friday.
The vacuum in the presidency has already halted work in Parliament, with a legislative session failing to convene due to a boycott by Christian MPs Tuesday.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has urged Lebanon's leaders to select a president "without delay."