Syrian parliament urges Assad to clarify 'reforms'

AFP , Monday 28 Mar 2011

President Assad expected to address Syria as he comes under unprecedented pressure

Syria's parliament has asked President Bashar al-Assad to explain in detail a string of reforms promised in response to a wave of popular dissent across the country, an MP said Monday.

"On Sunday night, MPs requested that the president clarify the measures that authorities have announced and urged him to address parliament and explain," MP Mohammed Habash told AFP.

Parliamentarians also held a minute of silence, he said, to honour those killed in two weeks of unrest in Syria, where demonstrators earlier this month began taking to the streets to demand change.

The security situation in the country has worsened in past days, with reports of gangs wreaking havoc in the northern port city of Latakia and sporadic bouts of violence in the southern governorate of Daraa.

Rights groups have put the death toll at around 130, with Daraa - a tribal area at the Jordanian border - sustaining the most casualties.

Authorities have accused Muslim fundamentalists of aiming to incite sectarian-based strife in Syria, a majority Sunni Muslim country which is also home to Christians, Druze and Alawite Muslims.

Presidential adviser Buthaina Shaaban on Sunday told AFP Assad, who is facing unprecedented domestic pressure in his 11-year rule, was expected to address his nation in the days to come.

Authorities on Thursday had said Syria has decided to end emergency rule, which has been in force since the Alawite-controlled Baath came to power in 1963.

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