Assad accepts prime minister's resignation


Damascus - The Syrian President, Mr Hafez al-Assad, has accepted the resignation of his Prime Minister of 13 years, Mr Mahmud Zu'bi, and appointed a provincial governor to head a new cabinet, Michael Jansen reports. The new Prime Minister is Mr Muhammad Mustafa Miro (55), the governor of Aleppo, Syria's most populous urban centre and major industrial area. Mr Assad seeks to replace the government with younger, more energetic ministers.

The new cabinet is expected to be named in coming days. The Foreign Minister, Mr Farouk al-Sharaa, who is a confidant of the President, will likely retain his post or be upgraded to deputy Prime Minister, and would remain involved in negotiations with Israel over the Golan.

Yesterday the London-based Arabic daily al-Hayat published an interview with the President's son and presumed political heir, Dr Bashar al-Assad, in which he spoke of Syria's need for new experienced men in government who would institute the reforms required to meet the demands of the 21st century.

There has been speculation that he could be appointed one of the country's three vice-presidents, to replace the disgraced exiled brother of the President. The new government was announced four days before Arab foreign ministers are due to convene in Beirut.