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Syria government resigns in effort to appease protesters

Announcement on Syrian state TV says President Assad has accepted government's resignation; Assad expected to address nation later on in speech which may include decision to abolish emergency laws following weeks of anti-government protests.

HAARETZ.com

March 29, 2011 | 8:58 am

Billboard with portrait of Assad and the text Allah protects Syria on the old city wall of Damascus 2006 Photo by Bertil Videt, Jan. 2006.

Billboard with portrait of Assad and the text Allah protects Syria on the old city wall of Damascus 2006 Photo by Bertil Videt, Jan. 2006.

Syria’s Cabinet resigned Tuesday to help quell a wave of popular fury that erupted more than a week ago and is now threatening President Bashar Assad’s 11-year rule in one of the most authoritarian and closed-off nations in the Middle East.

Assad, whose family has controlled Syria for four decades, is trying to calm the growing dissent with a string of concessions. He is expected to address the nation in the next 24 hours to lift emergency laws in place since 1963 and moving to annul other harsh restrictions on civil liberties and political freedoms.

More than 60 people have died since March 18 as security forces cracked down on protesters, Human Rights Watch said.

State TV said Tuesday Assad accepted the resignation of the 32-member Cabinet headed by Naji al-Otari, who has been in place since September 23. The Cabinet will continue running the country’s affairs until the formation of a new government.

Read more at Haaretz.com.

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