Assad as irrelevant as Gaddafi - Clegg

2011-08-22 16:01
London - Syrian President Bashar al-Assad must step down because he is as "irrelevant" to the future of his country as Muammar Gaddafi is in Libya, Britain's deputy prime minister said on Monday.

With Gaddafi's regime apparently in its final throes as rebel fighters move into Tripoli, Nick Clegg said the situation in Syria was "less encouraging".

Clegg dismissed a television interview Assad gave on Sunday and, in the strongest language used by a senior British minister on Syria yet, accused him of lying "endlessly" and said the president's family was fighting its own people.

"In Syria... a single family continues to wage war on an entire nation," Clegg said in a speech taking stock of the Arab Spring.

"Yesterday we heard him wheel out the same, well-worn promises of reform. We take no reassurance from that.

"This is a man who has lied endlessly, broken his promises repeatedly, hurt his own people and now his time is up."

Clegg said: "We are clear: We want the violence to stop; prisoners of conscience to be released; the UN to have complete freedom to assess the humanitarian situation; and, for the sake of the Syrian people, it's time for Assad to go.

"He is as irrelevant to Syria's future as Gaddafi is to Libya's."

Assad on Sunday scoffed at Western calls to quit over his deadly crackdown on dissent, saying such calls were "worthless".

The president's TV appearance was his first since US President Barack Obama called on him to stand down, a demand quickly echoed by the leaders of Britain, France, Germany and Spain.

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Read more on:    bashar al-assad  |  muammar gaddafi  |  nick clegg  |  syria  |  libya  |  north africa  |  uprisings  |  libya protests
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