The Syrian Cabinet has resigned hours before President Bashar Assad, who retains almost total power, is to make a “major’ speech in the wake of protests and killings of dozens, and perhaps hundreds, of demonstrators.
Pro-Assad rallies, sanctioned the government, expressed support for the dictator and opposition to the civil strife that is the first major crisis Assad has faced since taking power 11 years ago.
He is scheduled to speech to the Syrian people this week and could announce an end to emergency laws that have been in effect for nearly 50 years.
Most of the protests have been concentrated in the city of Daraa, located near the Jordanian border, but the demonstrations demanding more political freedom have spread to Damascus.
Unlike Egyptian and Tunisian rulers who were toppled by this year’s uprisings, Assad’s secret police possesses tighter control over the country, and he has stated that he must be tuned in to the mood of the people.
His expected speech will “please the Syrian people,” according to Syrian Vice President Farouq Shara.