General Émile Jamil Lahoud, born January 12, 1936, is a former President of Lebanon. He is the son of General Jamil Lahoud, a leader in the independence movement. His mother is of Armenian descent from the Armenian village of Kasab. Lahoud is a Maronite-Catholic, as is required for the Lebanese presidency. Under Lebanon’s unwritten constitutional agreement, the National Pact, the presidency is earmarked for a Maronite Catholic, the Parliament of Lebanon speaker’s post for a Shia Muslim and the prime minister’s post is reserved for a Sunni Muslim. Before being elected in 1998, he was Chief of Staff in the Army.
Lahoud served as a colonel for a number of years before he crossed over into the Muslim area which was backed by the Syrian army. A Maronite military officer was needed to assume the position of army commander for the West Beirut-based Lebanese government endorsed by the 1989 Taif Agreement. Lahoud was offered the position.
He served in various posts in the military, including commander-in-chief of the army from 1989 to 1998, and then ran for the presidency in 1998, after having the constitution amended to allow the army commander-in-chief to run for office within three years of holding that post.
Under the Lebanese constitution, the President’s term was limited to one six-year term. However in 2004, the parliament voted to extend his term for an additional three years to 2007 (his predecessor, Elias Hrawi, did the same).