The United States has termed the appointment of a new Prime Minister in Syria to head a reform government as "another empty gesture" by President Bashar al-Assad "to preserve his rule."
Asked about the U.S. government's reaction on the naming of Assad loyalist Riyad Farid Hijab as the country's Prime Minister on Wednesday, State Department deputy spokesperson Mark C. Toner said at a regular briefing that "it's another so-called reform by Assad, and we view it as another empty gesture by him to preserve his rule. And it's hard to take any of this seriously when Syrian citizens are being shelled daily, when you've got atrocities like Houla being committed by the shabiha, it's really hard to find credible any talk of -or any political reforms that he may be referring to."
Toner said that "we want to see a political dialogue begin as soon as possible...but with a clear goal of a political transition. The exact makeup, who talks to who - obviously that's something that needs to be clarified by the Syrian people themselves."
He made it clear that Washington does not believe that Assad can be still in power at the end of any kind of process like that. "As to whether this individual can lead that dialogue, let's get to that point before we decide," he added.
Washington's stance is that it rejects any more "empty talk of reform, empty gestures about reform."
Currently Agriculture Minister, the appointment of Hijab, 46, comes a month after parliamentary elections held under Syria's revised Constitution. The Opposition boycotted the elections.
His first task as Prime Minister will be to form a government in the violence-torn country where more than 10,000 people have been killed in fighting between security forces and pro-democracy protesters backed by Army deserters.
Even though a ceasefire brokered by U.N.-Arab League Special envoy Kofi Annan is in force, crackdown by security forces continued to put down the uprising against the Assad regime that broke out 15 months ago.
Latest reports quoting Opposition activists say that at least 86 people, including women and children, have been killed by Syrian pro-government forces in Hama province, but Syrian State TV claims the casualties were "terrorists" killed by troops.
by RTT Staff Writer
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