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|Tuesday, June 27, 2000, updated at 22:05(GMT+8)|
Syria Sets July 10 for Vote on Bashar as PresidentSyria's parliament on Tuesday unanimously approved in Damascus the nomination of Bashar al-Assad as the country's next president and set July 10 for a public referendum to confirm his accession.
Abdul-Qader Qaddourah, speaker of the 250-member People's Assembly, made the announcement after two days of eulogies of Bashar from deputies following the recommendation of the ruling Baath Party that he assume the post held by his late father, Hafez al-Assad, for the last 30 years.
A 70-member committee, grouping all ruling coalition parties and the private sector, unanimously backed Bashar. More than 200 MPs on Monday and Tuesday also spoke in favour of the 34-year-old heir.
As the speaker announced the assebly decision, deputies rose in a standing ovation and shouted: "With our souls and our blood we redeem thee, Bashar."
In the referendum, Syrians will be asked simply to say "yes" or "no" to Bashar becoming president. He has already been promoted to the rank of general and named army chief. Last week he was elected secretary of the Regional Command, the Baath Party's top policy-making body.
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