The United Nations Security Council is expressing concern and strongly encouraging leaders in Lebanon to show "urgency and flexibility" in choosing a president, as the country has been without a head of state since May.

The current council president, Australian Ambassador Gary Quinlan, read out the press statement Wednesday after a briefing on the situation.

President Michel Suleiman stepped down after his six-year term ended without a replacement. The presidency is the country's top Christian-held position.

Lawmakers last week voted overwhelmingly to extend their mandate, skipping scheduled elections for the second consecutive time. They say Lebanon's security situation is too fragile to allow elections during neighboring Syria's civil war.

Rights groups worry that lawmakers are eroding the right to vote in a country with a tradition of free elections.