Emile Lahoud, a Maronite Christian, comes from the Metn region in Lebanon (North-East of Beirut) where he was born in January 1936. He entered the Military Academy in 1956 and completed his formative years by training in Britain and the United States. He became naval officer in 1959 and was elevated Navy Commander in 1970. He also was high-ranking official at different grades in the Ministry of Defence until he became General and was appointed Commander of the Lebanese Army in November 1989 after the dismissal of General Michel Awn by President Hrawi.

General Lahoud is credited with rebuilding the Lebanese Army and forging it more united out of the ethnically fragmented force left by years of civil war. Under his command, the army also successfully disarmed most militia in early 1991, according to the Taif Agreement. However, Lahoud has tended to leave Hezbollah to its own devices, on the ground that it was waging a resistance war again the Israeli occupation of South Lebanon.

Proposed by President Hrawi, whose mandate expired on November 23th 1998, he was elected on October 15th 1998 President of the Lebanese Republic by the Parliament.

The Lebanese Constitution establishes the mandate of the president to 6 years. However, in September 2004, the Lebanese Parliament, under Syrian pressure, passed a law extending the mandate of Emile Lahoud, which was to expire in 2004, until 2007. This extension of the mandate was the detonator of the « Cedar Revolution ».

Emile Lahoud is nevertheless the assigned term. On November 23, 2007 he left the presidency without a nominated successor. The two political movements of 8 and March 14 do indeed not come to an agreement on a consensus candidate. Meanwhile, the presidential powers are entrusted to the Council of Ministers chaired by Fouad Siniora – whose legitimacy is still not recognized by the « pro-Syrian » camp.