Banished Uncle Seeks to Mend Fences with New Syrian President

Published July 17th, 2000 - 02:00 GMT

Rifa't Assad, the banished uncle of new Syrian President Bashar, issued a statement Monday apparently seeking to mend fences with his nephew. 

Bashar, 34, who was sworn into office earlier Monday, five weeks after the death of his father and predecessor Hafez, symbolized "the birth of a new Rectification Movement," Rifa't said in a statement sent to AFP in Nicosia. 

The Rectification Movement was the official term for the coup which brought Hafez to power in October 1970. 

Rifa't's words were a turnaround from his previous public stance with Bashar. 

Two days after Hafez's death, Rifa't had challenged Bashar for the post of president. He had said he considered himself the "legitimate" successor and branded his nephew as "incapable". 

But in his statement Monday, Rifa't, was much more conciliatory, saying that Bashar's speech on taking office enshrined principles he himself had called for. He said he now hopes "that the positive ideas of the speech are translated into action." 

Rifa't, 63, was stripped of his vice-president's post in 1998 after a long-running dispute with Hafez. He had been banished since 1995, moving between homes in Marbella, Spain, Paris, Geneva and London - NICOSIA (AFP) 

 

© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)

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