Things fall apart: Syrian PM defects to Jordan
The now ex-prime minister of Syria: Riyad Hijab
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In the biggest blow to the Assad regime yet, the Syrian Prime Minister, Riyad Hijab, has defected to Jordan. According to government sources, the prime minister and his family got to the Kingdom late Saturday night. Uncomfirmed online reports suggested he had been planning the defection for weeks.
Hijab announced that he was now "a soldier in this blessed revolution". Mohammed Otri, spokesman for the now ex-prime minister told AlJazeera the regime threatened to kill Hijab unless he take the position in government in the first place.
Hassan Abd Azeem, general coordinator for the Syrian National Coordination Committee said the latest defection would likely have a domino effect on other ministers:
“The regime is falling apart”, he told AlJazeera.
Meanwhile, Omar Ghalaounji was appointed as interim prime minister while the Syrian government determines just how many more defections they can cope with.
A further two ministers were rumored to be defecting in the next couple of days but no names have so far been released. Sources inside Syria told AlArabiya that regime forces had detained finance minister, Mohamed Glilaty, to prevent his defection. But Gillaty later denied this to Syrian state TV.
Hijab is a former agriculture minister and a loyalist to Bashar al Assad’s party. He was only recently appointed as prime minister but according to Abd Azeem, he was planning the defection from the very start.
Syrian state TV today reported that he was fired but would not give any specific reason for the dismissal.
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