Beirut: Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora said on Saturday that his cabinet was assuming the powers of the presidency in the absence of a successor to Emile Lahoud.

Siniora made the declaration after Lahoud left the presidential palace at midnight when his term expired, and gave the army control of the country.

Lahoud has said he would not hand over executive powers to the Cabinet since he does not recognise the Siniora government.

Siniora said its mission would be to complete the presidential election process after parliament failed on Friday to vote for a new president.

"When the presidency is vacant, the powers of the presidency devolve to the cabinet ... which is the legitimate and constitutional cabinet according to the constitution," Siniora said.

Parliament failed to elect a new president by Friday's constitutional deadline after rival political factions failed reach a consensus on who should replace Lahoud.

The prime minister tried to reassure Lebanese that the country was not in danger of sliding into violence.

"I am confident that there is absolutely no need for concern," he said. "We know well that the Lebanese have absolutely no desire to bring back the pains of the past."