04 April 2011 - 14H51  

Syria protest town 'has new governor'
Hundreds of Syrians march from the Omayyed mosque in the centre of Damascus' Old City on Friday chanting: "Daraa is Syria" and "We will sacrifice ourselves for Syria." A new governor has been appointed to the southern town of Daraa, the unexpected hub of a protest movement that erupted in Syria last month.
Hundreds of Syrians march from the Omayyed mosque in the centre of Damascus' Old City on Friday chanting: "Daraa is Syria" and "We will sacrifice ourselves for Syria." A new governor has been appointed to the southern town of Daraa, the unexpected hub of a protest movement that erupted in Syria last month.

AFP - A new governor has been appointed to the southern town of Daraa, the unexpected hub of a protest movement that erupted in Syria March 15, the official SANA news agency reported Monday.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad appointed Mohammad Khaled al-Hannus as governor of Daraa, an agricultural town near the border with Jordan, where dozens have been killed in more than two weeks of anti-regime demonstrations.

He replaces the much reviled Faysal Kalthum, sacked on March 23 at the height of anti-regime demonstrations that left dozens dead and the governor's residence in flames.

The move was dismissed as not enough by Syrian human rights activists.

"The residents of Daraa want more than a switch in governor -- they want the security services to stop oppressing them, the emergency law lifted, property rights respected, the detained freed and freedom of expression guaranteed," one activist told AFP, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Residents of Daraa accused the former governor of postponing the acquisition of property rights and preventing farmers from drilling water wells for irrigation.

A lawmaker from the region issued in parliament last week a scathing indictment against security forces, accusing them of opening fire "without mercy" and criticising the head of state for not offering condolences to the casualties.

In a video that was circulated on YouTube, MP Yussef Abu Rumiyeh held the director of security services in Daraa directly responsible for the bloodshed.

Meanwhile, the private daily Al-Watan, close to the government, said Monday that the committee investigating "events" in Daraa and the port city of Latakia, had questioned "many witnesses and will soon end its work."

Syria launched an immediate probe into the deaths of "civilians and troops" killed in Daraa and Latakia, two cities that have emerged as the flashpoints of protests marred by deadly violence.

 
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