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Thursday 11 June 2020

Syrian Prime Minister Replaced


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AMMAN (Reuters) — Syrian President Bashar al Assad on Thursday removed prime minister Imad Khamis from the post he has occupied since 2016, state media said, in a move that follows weeks of deepening economic hardship.

The state media gave no reason for this surprise decision, which was announced in a presidential decree designating water resources minister Hussein Arnous as Khamis’ successor. Arnous, 67, currently minister of water resources, was born in Idlib and had served in a long succession of government posts, including governor of Deir Zor province that borders Iraq and Quneitra province in southern Syria.

Syria is in the grip of an economic crisis, with a currency that has plunged to a record low in recent days, compounding the difficulties of ordinary Syrians hit by years of war. The currency hit a record 3,000 Syrian pounds to the dollar earlier this week in a rapidly accelerating free-fall. It traded at 47/$ at the start of the conflict.

Syrian authorities blame Western sanctions for widespread hardship among ordinary residents, where the currency collapse has led to soaring prices and people struggling to afford food and basic supplies.

The government has criticised a wave of new, tighter U.S. sanctions, known as the Caesar Act, which takes effect later this month which economists and politicians say will further tighten the noose around Assad’s government.

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