News24

Expelling Syrian envoy 'unwise'

2012-02-06 16:07

Tunis - Tunisian opposition parties on Monday criticised the government's decision to expel the Syrian ambassador over Damascus' crackdown on protests as a reckless break with Tunis' diplomatic tradition.

The presidency said on Saturday it had started a procedure to expel the Syrian ambassador following one of the bloodiest weekends since the start almost 11 months ago of a popular uprising against President Bashar al-Assad's regime.

"Such a move is not in keeping with the tradition of Tunisian diplomacy," the Progressive Democratic Party (PDP), one of the main opposition groups, said in a statement.

The PDP urged Tunisia's Islamist-led government to "consult all national players before making decisions that can jeopardise the country's Arab and international relations".

The leftist Ettajdid party stressed it fully supported the Syrian people in their struggle against Assad's regime but criticised Tunis' decision as "hasty" and "unconsidered".

The Tunisian National Party also said that expelling the Syrian ambassador was "a hasty decision and a dangerous precedent in the history of Tunisian diplomacy".

On Sunday, Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali, whose government was brought in by elections that followed the Arab Spring's first uprising, called on all nations to expel their Syrian ambassadors.

Some countries have warned such a move would likely draw retaliatory action against their diplomatic representations in Damascus and thus impede their ability to fulfill any humanitarian role.

According to rights groups, more than 6 000 people have been killed since Syria's uprising began in March 2011.

Arab and Western powers have called on Assad to step down but their efforts to isolate him further on the international scene were frustrated when China and Russia vetoed a UN Security Council resolution condemning the crackdown.