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Syria: Baath Party Elections Exclude ‘Grey’ Members

Syria: Baath Party Elections Exclude ‘Grey’ Members

Monday, 3 February, 2020 - 10:30
Syria’s President Bashar Assad (L) chairs the central committee of the ruling Baath party in Damascus (AFP)

For the first time in nine years, the Arab Socialist Baath Party began Saturday to select members of branch offices in Syria's governorates.

Assistant Regional Secretary General of al-Baath Arab Socialist Party Hilal al-Hilal called on party members to exclude ‘grey’ candidates from their ranks, meaning those who avoided full engagement with the regime during the past nine years during its war against the opposition.

Hilal said Baathists should be responsible and avoid electing ‘gray men’ who did not offer anything to the homeland during wartime. He conveyed the message of the party’s Sec-Gen Bashar al-Assad asserting his desire to implement a democratic life in the party.

Branches of the party have begun their elections with Raqqa and Damascus countryside on Saturday, Damascus and Quneitra on Sunday, whereas Aleppo will hold its elections Monday, followed by the rest of the provinces.

Based on the party’s bylaws, it is customary to elect 24 members from each governorate, of which the party leadership selects eight, including the branch secretary and the governor to represent the governorate during which the selection of the central leadership members.

During the war, the Secretary-General made several adjustments to the central leadership, without holding a general congress.

In 2011, a new party leadership was appointed which overthrew most of its members, notably the Syrian Vice President Farouk al-Sharaa who kept a moderate position calling for dialogue on the protests in his hometown Daraa.

Assad remained the Sec-Gen of the regional leadership and Hilal was appointed Assistant Secretary of the party.

Assad canceled the regional leadership from the party’s regulations in 2018 after a meeting of the central leadership. The regional leadership became "central leadership" and the position of regional secretary was changed to secretary-general, which remained vacant since the death of Hafez al-Assad in 2000.

This is the first change since the party was founded in 1949, after the cancellation of the ‘regional leadership’, making the party non-transnational of Syrian borders in terms of its regulations.

Since the March 1963 coup and the February 1966 coup, when the left-wing dominated the party's leadership in Syria, the Baath party became an authoritarian apparatus.

In 1970, with the coup led by Hafez al-Assad, the party became a tool to consolidate the Assad regime, which has been ruling Syria for five decades during which Syrians suffered from difficult living and security conditions. The situation deteriorated during the last decade with the outbreak of war after large-scale protests broke out in several cities against the regime in 2011.

Earlier, Assistant Syrian electricity minister, Hayan Salman, estimated to Sputnik that his country’s direct and indirect losses due to the war exceeded SYP5 trillion dollars.

Salman refused to acknowledge that the government services deteriorated, rather he claimed the ministry now has 4.2 million subscribers, up from 2.8 million, after some displaced citizens returned to Syria.

Before the war, Syria had $22 billion in reserves and was self-sufficient from wheat and medicine exported to more than 95 countries. He also indicated that the inflation rate was 8.3 percent, unemployment rate was 8.6 percent, and all of this was unfortunately lost because of the war.

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