Syria’s Assembly Speaker Slams Critics of Constitutional Amendment

Published June 23rd, 2000 - 02:00 GMT

By Nabil Al Mulhem 

Damascus 

 

Syria’s People’s Assembly speaker Abdul Qader Qaddura rejected criticism of an amendment to the constitution that changed the age of a potential president from 40 to 34. 

The amendment was introduced hours after the death of president Hafez Assad on June 10 in an apparent attempt to pave the way for his son Bashar to succeed his father. 

Qaddoura, told a press conference in Damascus that critics of the amendment, “remain silent when entire regimes are toppled in 15 minutes,” but they protest against a legitimate procedure made though constitutional channels.  

“When the People’s Assembly members heard the news [of the president’s death,] they called for the change, which was constitutional,” Qaddoura stressed. 

The speaker told reporters that Syria’s constitution enables the president, or a minimum of 75 deputies to recommend amendments. He said that 150 out of the 225 representatives proposed the change that day. 

According to the constitution, a national referendum on the election of a new president should be conducted in a period not exceeding 90 days after the death of the president. 

Bashar Assad was nominated as president last week by the regional command of the ruling Baath party. The nomination will be considered by a special parliamentary committee before it is submitted for a vote on June 25th. 

Qaddoura said that the date of the referendum will be set after the nomination of Bashar is endorsed by the assembly. 

The committee consists of six members representing the Syrian political parties, and 14 other representatives of all the Syrian provinces, the speaker said. 

On Tuesday, a Baath regional command landmark congress elected the younger Assad as secretary general. He now heads a 21-member committee charged with policy making at the ruling party. 

In response to a question about the less-than-expected number of military officers on the command board, the speaker, who is a member of the command, insisted that military figures are “still on the party’s central committee, which oversees the party’s performance.” 

Asked whether Bashar Assad, an eye doctor, is able to implement his political program, Qaddoura said that Bashar “was raised in the Baath, not the Greens party,” hinting to the political background of the younger Assad and stressing his capability to rule the country.  

However, the speaker said it’s premature to talk about the changes expected in Syria during Bashar’s reign. 

“We cannot judge things before they happen, and we cannot predict,” he said – Albawaba.com 

© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)

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