News24

Tunisia sees Yemen-style exit for Assad

2012-02-13 07:44

Algiers - Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki said on Sunday he hoped the bloodshed in Syria could be stopped under a similar scenario to the one which saw Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh relinquish power.

"I hope we will find a political solution akin to that in Yemen - that is to say, the departure of an unwanted dictator and a transition," he said during a visit to Algiers.

After months of bloody clashes between security forces and pro-democracy protestors, Saleh, who came to power in 1978, signed a deal in Saudi Arabia that effectively ends his reign but protects him from prosecution.

Tens of thousands of Syrians have been protesting against President Bashar al-Assad's rule almost every day for close to a year.

The crackdown on protests by the Damascus regime has attracted fierce criticism by rights groups, who say at least 6 000 people have died since March 2011.

"The primary role of a state is to protect its citizens. When it starts killing its citizens... it loses all legitimacy," Marzouki said.

Tunisia, whose own democratic revolution last year inspired the protests in Yemen and Syria, decided days ago to expel Damascus' ambassador, a move promptly reciprocated by Syria.

Syria has so far rejected an Arab League plan which envisioned Assad handing over power to his vice president ahead of a transition period.