Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Assad, referring to Egypt & Tunisia: "If we stay without reform we are on the course of destruction"

 Syrian watches President Bashar Assad on television
"....  Assad, who painted himself as a visionary and the tough son of his late father, Hafez, made no dramatic promises or sweeping concessions to end weeks of bloodshed.....  Assad said that the reforms demonstrators were calling for, including the lifting of emergency law and wider political freedoms, were among existing proposals that would be enacted this year. "There are no hurdles to reforms, but there are delays," said Assad, who received a standing ovation when he entered Parliament. He did acknowledge that the Syrian people "have demands that have not been met." Referring to Egypt and Tunisia, he added: "If we stay without reform we are on the course of destruction."
But he offered no specifics and did not, as many were anticipating, repeal the emergency law, which has kept his Baathist party in power since 1963. The president, who in two weeks of protests has shifted between crackdowns and appeasement, such as raising salaries, said "it is my responsibility to secure the stability of the nation." It was unclear whether the address would stem revolts that have flared in cities in the north and south but have yet to threaten the capital, Damascus. That test will come Friday when anti-government protesters have called for large rallies across the country. They are likely to be met by crowds of pro-Assad demonstrators ....  the president seemed confident in his security forces and that his defiance to what he described as foreign agitators would rally the country.... "

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