World

Syria’s Assad ‘finished’, Tunisian leader says

April 24, 2012

A Syrian student studying in Jordan, with his face painted in the colours of the Syrian opposition flag, shouts slogans against President Assad during a demonstration with other students in front of Syria’s embassy in Amman, April 23, 2012. The students belong to a group called “Syrian Students Grouping in the Jordanian universities”. — Reuters picA Syrian student studying in Jordan, with his face painted in the colours of the Syrian opposition flag, shouts slogans against President Assad during a demonstration with other students in front of Syria’s embassy in Amman, April 23, 2012. The students belong to a group called “Syrian Students Grouping in the Jordanian universities”. — Reuters picBEIRUT, April 24 — Bashar al-Assad’s international allies must realise the Syrian president is “finished” and persuade him to step down to avoid further bloodshed, Tunisian President Moncef al-Marzouki said in a newspaper interview published today.

“The Russians and Chinese, and the Iranians must understand that this man is finished and they cannot defend him,” Marzouki told the regional Arab newspaper Al-Hayat. “They must persuade him to leave power and hand over to his deputy.”

Assad “will go one way or another ... dead or alive”, Marzouki added.

Addressing Assad directly, Marzouki said: “It’s better for you and your family to leave alive, because if you decide to leave dead, that means that you have caused the deaths of tens of thousands of innocents. Enough blood has been shed.”

Tunisia, whose peaceful revolution a year ago sparked the Arab Spring uprisings that saw off autocratic leaders in Egypt, Libya and Yemen, in February offered to give Assad political asylum to stem the violence in Syria, where the United Nations says government forces have killed 9,000 people.

Syrian authorities say they are fighting foreign-backed Islamist militants, who they blame for killing more than 2,500 soldiers and police.

UN observers are launching a monitoring mission in Syria to oversee an April 12 ceasefire agreement brokered by former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

Fewer than a dozen from a planned mission of 300 observers have arrived so far, and the violence has continued. Activists said 30 people were killed across Syria yesterday.

Marzouki said the mission had little chance of ending the killings. “I do not expect it to succeed, because the number of observers is very small,” he said. “Three hundred people cannot do anything. In Kosovo there were thousands of observers.” — Reuters

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