Syria’s ambassador to France announced her resignation in protest of the “cycle of violence” live on FRANCE 24 Tuesday. But in subsequent statements aired on other channels, a woman claiming to be the Syrian diplomat denied that she had resigned.
Syria’s ambassador to France announced her resignation in protest of the “cycle of violence” live on FRANCE 24 Tuesday.
Lamia Chakkour said she no longer wanted to represent Damascus in France.
“I can no longer continue to support the cycle of extreme violence against unarmed civilians,” said Chakkour. “I can no longer ignore the young men, women and children who have died.
“I have informed the president’s private secretary that it is my intention to tender my resignation to (Syrian) President Bashar al-Assad,” she said adding that she recognised “the legitimacy of the people’s demands for more democracy and freedom. My resignation as Syrian ambassador to France will take effect immediately,” she said.
Chakkour made her announcement during the daily “Debate” show in English and French on FRANCE 24’s two language channels.
Chakkour was asked by the show’s host Francois Picard to comment on concerns that the northern Syrian town of Jisr al-Shughour, which is reportedly bracing itself for a military assault, was indeed facing a violent crackdown by the country’s armed forces.
She began what was to be her resignation address by responding: “Ladies and gentlemen … I have a short declaration to make. My duty is to make sure that the voice of the Syrian people can be understood in France, Europe and in the West.
“I said I would do all that I could to ensure a good image of my country in France.”
In her statement, Chakkour also called on Assad to call opposition leaders together and to form a new government.
The daughter of a former member of the regime’s secret police, Chakkour has been ambassador to France since 2008. She is the first Syrian diplomat to resign in the face of protests that have claimed some 1,100 lives since unrest erupted in Deraa in late March.
Syrian state TV denies resignation
Shortly after the announcement on FRANCE 24, Syrian state television said the country’s ambassador to France had not resigned. In an audio statement aired on Syrian state TV, a woman’s voice was broadcast denying the resignation and saying she would sue FRANCE 24.
The Arabic Al-Arabiya and Al-Jazeera TV stations also subsequently aired audio comments from women who claimed to be the Syrian ambassador repeating the denial.
FRANCE 24 has reached Chhakour previously on the same number that was used to contact her on Tuesday evening.
Shortly after the announcement on FRANCE 24, Reuters reported that the Syrian embassy had confirmed that Chakkour had left her post and that she would not make any further comments. According to Reuters, an email response from the embassy, sent via its website, confirmed that ambassador Chakkour had resigned.
Reporting from Lebanon, France 24’s Lucy Fielder said the news was welcomed by Syrian opposition figures in neighbouring Lebanon. “One opposition figure said it was a sign of the regime cracking from within and that even the regime’s staunchest supporters could no longer accept the level of bloodshed,” she said. “He said that he hoped this would be the beginning of a mass defection.”
Foreign journalists are not allowed in Syria, making the current uprising very difficult to cover. Fielder said the subsequent denial on Syrian state television had created some confusion among opposition figures. “But,” she added, “there’s certainly a lot of hope that this might be the beginning of a lot of pressure on the regime.”
(www.france24.com / 07.06.2011)