Syria takes the initiative ahead of protests | Pakistan Today

Syria takes the initiative ahead of protests

DAMASCUS – A new governor has been appointed to the southern town of Daraa, the unexpected hub of the Syrian protest movement, the official SANA news agency reported on Monday, while a Facebook group urged rallies in honour of those killed in the unrest. President Bashar al-Assad, who is facing unprecedented domestic pressure as protesters demand greater freedoms and test his family’s four-decade grip on power, has made a string of gestures hinting at change. He appointed Mohammad Khaled al-Hannus governor of Daraa, an agricultural town near the border with Jordan, where dozens have been killed in more than two weeks of anti-regime demonstrations, the official SANA news agency said Monday. Hannus replaces the much-reviled Faysal Kalthum, sacked on March 23 at the height of anti-regime demonstrations that left dozens dead and the governor’s residence in flames.
The appointment, which was immediately dismissed as not enough by Syrian human rights activists, came one day after Assad asked former agriculture minister Adel Safar to form a new government.”The residents of Daraa want more than a switch in governor — they want the security services to stop oppressing them, the emergency law lifted, property rights respected, the detained freed and freedom of expression guaranteed,” one activist told AFP on condition of anonymity.Residents of Daraa had accused the former governor of postponing the acquisition of property rights and preventing farmers from drilling water wells for irrigation.
Earier, a lawmaker from the region issued in parliament a scathing indictment against security forces, accusing them of opening fire “without mercy” and critising the head of state for not offering his condolences. Activists estimate more than 130 people have been killed in clashes with security forces, mainly in the cities of Daraa and Latakia. Officials have put the death toll at closer to 30.

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