By Nabil Al Mulhem
Key players in Syria’s political arena proclaimed confidence Saturday in Basher Assad, the likely candidate for president as the ruling Baath Party congress held its first meeting in 15 years in Damascus.
The meeting comes after one week of the death of president Hafez Assad.
The congress, attended by 950 party members along with 200 observers began its closed-door meetings by noon following the opening session, inaugurated by Suleiman Qaddah Amin, Assistant Regional Secretary.
The proceedings were chaired by Abdullah Ahmar, Assistant Secretary General.
Leaders of Syria’s main political parties, functioning under the umbrella of the Progressive Front, pledged cooperation with Baath party to support Bashar’s candidacy and a war waged against corruption in the country.
President of the Social Unionist Party, Fayez Ismael, said that “external and internal powers have plotted conspiracies against the country.” He addressed Bashar as president.
In a letter read at the session sent by the ailing secretary general of the Arab Socialists Movement, Abdul Ghani Qannout, he voiced support to Assad’s nomination, and asked the congress to address problems such as unemployment, and other economic problems in Syria.
Secretaries of both wings of the communist party also endorsed Bashar’s candidacy, and proposed changes to the partisan life in Syria.
Wisal Bikdash, secretary general of Khalid Bikdash wing, demanded publication of the parties’ newspapers, whereas her counterpart in the break away wing of the communist party, Youssef Faisal, demanded the Progressive Front “set an example for pluralism.”
Secretary general of the Socialist Union Party, Safwan Qudsi, criticized the Baathists, urging them “to rise up to the level of their leadership.”
Bashar Assad sat in the first row with Marshal Mustafa Tlas, Syria’s defense minister, said to be the closest of the old guards to Bashar.
Tlas told reporters after the open session that “there is consensus on the election of Bashar as the next secretary general,” and added that “a new command will be elected later.” – Albawaba.com
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com )