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Syrian president accepts government resignation


Damascus : Syrian President Bashar al-Assad accepted his government’s resignation Tuesday following days of protests.

The decision came a day after Vice President Farouq al-Sharaa said al-Assad was about to announce important decisions that “will please Syrians”.

State media reported that al-Assad was expected to address the nation later in the day.

The government was previously reported to have agreed to lift the country’s state of emergency, which has been in place since the Baath party took power in 1963.

A member of parliament told DPA that lawmakers were asked to attend a session Wednesday morning. The reason for the meeting was not yet clear.

Thousands took to the streets of Damascus and other cities across the country to express their support for al-Assad, who has been in office since 2000.

“Let the world know we are the Syrian people and Bashar is our president,” a woman shouted.

Demonstrators, some carrying children on their shoulders, waved Syrian flags and chanted “God bless Bashar”.

“The people want Bashar al-Assad,” said members of a crowd gathered outside the central bank building, which has been draped in a huge poster of al-Assad.

Such rallies were in stark contrast to the anti-government protests that have been taking place in recent weeks. Those have seen thousands call for reforms and, in some instances, for al-Assad to step down.

Opposition groups were planning a million-man march for Friday.

Shops, banks and schools were shut and security forces were out in force in the streets Tuesday, a witness said.

State television broadcast live footage from different cities. But Qatari broadcaster Al Jazeera said their reporters were prevented from entering the southern city of Daraa, and Latakia in the north.

Violent government crackdown on protests have been reported in both cities over the last two weeks.

At least 61 protesters have been killed by security forces in and around Daraa since March 18, according to New York-based Human Rights Watch. Another 12 protesters were killed in the port city of Latakia.