President promises reforms


President Bashar al-Assad broke a two month silence yesterday to speak to the nation from Damascus University. In the speech he explained that he had been meeting with small groups of Syrian citizens and had been listening to what they had been saying.

In a speech that lasted around 70 minutes and was said to have been rambling in places the president promised a national dialogue authority, with political parties contesting free elections as early as August.

The president was said to have come across as less arrogant than in his normal appearances and he acknowledged that there had been martyrs on both sides. Nevertheless his speech appeared to have inflamed the protesters with widespread protests taking place in most towns, including Damascus the capital, immediately afterwards.

International opinion showed little enthusiasm for the speech with British Foreign Minister William Hague describing the speech as ‘unconvincing’, a White House spokesperson said that they wanted to see ‘concrete action’ and Turkey said that the speech was ‘not enough’.

The full text of the speech as found on the SANA Syrian News Agency website is available on the Politics Abroad Syrian page – click here.

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