Not me, but my inner circle made mistakes, says Assad

Not me, but my inner circle made mistakes, says Assad

DAMASCUS – Agence France-Presse
Not me, but my inner circle made mistakes, says Assad

Syria’s al-Assad heads the meeting of the Central Committee of the ruling al-Baath. REUTERS photo

Ruling party leaders removed in a reshuffle this week had made mistakes while in office, Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad told the Baath party’s mouthpiece in an interview published July 11.

The interview was published two days after the Baath party announced the names of 16 new leaders, which included none of the party’s former chiefs with the exception of al-Assad, who will remain secretary general.

“When a leader does not solve a series of errors, this leader must be held accountable,” al-Assad told Al-Baath newspaper, without elaborating.

“This is the real role of the (Baath party’s) central committee, which is supposed to hold accountable the leaders on a regular basis. This did not happen in recent years,” he added.

The central committee should “monitor the leadership’s work, evaluate it and hold the leaders accountable,” said al-Assad.

“Those defending the nation now are the workers and farmers... some of them are in the army, others defending their land,” said al-Assad.

“The struggle now is between those who are ignorant and those who are aware, between the patriots and the collaborators, between extremists and moderates.”

Among those removed from the party’s leadership was Vice President Farouk al-Sharaa, the only top Syrian official to advocate a political compromise to the country’s bloody civil war.

The Baath party has been in power since March 8, 1963. Until February 2012, the Syrian constitution described the Baath as the ruling party of Syrian society. Almost a year into an uprising demanding regime change, the constitution was modified and a new article introduced enshrining the principles of pluralism and democracy. The party’s reshuffle was the first since 2005.

Meanwhile, the United Nations has accepted the Syrian government’s invitation for a visit by two senior U.N. officials for talks on the purported use of chemical weapons in the country’s civil war, a U.N. spokesman said July 11.

The offer of talks was made to Swedish scientist Ake Sellstrom, named by the United Nations to investigate the claims, and Angela Kane, U.N. High Representative for Disarmament.

Sellstrom and Kane have accepted the invitation “with a view to completing the consultations on the modalities of cooperation required for the proper, safe and efficient conduct of the U.N. mission to investigate allegations of the use of chemical weapons in Syria,” said Martin Nesirky, spokesman for the U.N. chief. Nesirky did not specify a date for the visit.