Ninth Regional Baath Congress Kicks off Saturday

Published June 17th, 2000 - 02:00 GMT

By Nabil Al Mulhem 

Damascus 

 

The first in 15 years, the 9th congress of Syria’s ruling Baath party will open here Saturday. The late president’s son and heir apparent, Bashar Assad, will be elected as secretary general, the seat occupied by the late Hafez Assad throughout his 30-year reign. 

Partisan sources told Albawaba.com that Assistant Regional Secretary, Qaddah Al Amin, will chair the landmark meeting awaiting the election of Assad. 

The sources, who asked to remain unnamed, said the congress proceedings have been shortened from the planned five days to three “so as to accelerate the procedures of Assad’s candidacy for presidency.” 

The People’s Assembly – parliament – is scheduled to meet on June 25th to vote for Assad as the new leader of the country before a referendum, as stipulated in the constitution, is conducted to obtain the people’s approval 90 days after the president’s death. 

Assad was also promoted to the rank of general and now assumes the leadership of the army. 

Despite expectations of drastic changes in the structure of the party, the sources ruled out the possibility that Baath “will give up veteran politicians.” 

The expectations came in light of the reform campaign dubbed as “clean hands,” which was led by Bashar Assad and has seen a number former senior officials being sued and their assets sequestered on charges of corruption and misuse of office. 

The Baath regional command consists of 21 members, but only 17 are on board now following the death of the secretary general on June 10th, and the sacking of his brother Rifa’t Assad in 1996. Early this year Mohammad Haidar was tried for corruption and consequently fired. In May, former prime minister, Mahmoud Zu’bi, committed suicide after he also faced charges of corruption. 

Current premier Mustafa Miro will be elected for the command membership, said the sources. 

They added that 950 Baathists will take part in the assembly, while 200 officials and members of the Progressive Front, the umbrella of the government coalition, will attend as observers – Albawaba.com 

© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)

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