updated 9/3/2004 2:34:13 PM ET 2004-09-03T18:34:13

Lebanon’s Parliament amended the country’s constitution Friday to extend pro-Syrian President Emile Lahoud’s term in office by three years, turning their back on U.N. calls to hold an election to choose the head of state.

The result, secured after Lahoud supporters mustered more than the two-thirds of votes needed, had been expected. Neighboring Syria, the main power broker in Lebanon, has been widely backing Lahoud’s bid to extend his six-year term, which was due to expire Nov. 24.

Ninety-six of the 125 lawmakers who attended the 2½-hour session raised their hands to support the amendment, while the remaining 29 legislators voted against it.

Late Thursday, a deeply divided U.N. Security Council narrowly approved a resolution aimed at pressuring Lebanon to reject a second term for Lahoud and calling for an immediate withdrawal of all its foreign forces — an indirect reference to Syrian troops.

The United States and France, which along with many here believe Syria was behind the decision to skip a presidential election in favor of keeping Lahoud in office, had pushed for the resolution, which was aimed at pressuring Syria to loosen its grip on Lebanese politics.

But Lebanon’s lawmakers pressed ahead, affirming their loyalty to Syria by backing Lahoud, Damascus’ close ally.

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