Assad marks 20 years in power without celebrations amid economic crisis

Damascus, Jul 17 (efe-epa).- Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad celebrated 20 years in power on Friday in the midst of one of the country’s worst economic crises.

There were no celebrations to mark the passing of two decades since he took the reins from his father.

The date has not been marked with a public holiday in Syria and since the country’s civil war broke out in 2011.

There was no ceremony of any kind to commemorate the day when Assad, 54, took power in the Arab country in 2000.

He came to power after his father Hafez Al-Assad, who ruled for three decades, died on 10 June of that year.

A referendum was held a month after Hafez’s death and his son, an ophthalmologist who was educated in the United Kingdom, was voted in as the new president.

The country’s constitution was also amended, lowering the minimum age for a president from 40 to 34 years.

The lack of celebrations to mark Assad’s 20-year anniversary as leader came amid one of the worst economic crises that Syria has suffered since the beginning of its conflict, which has later turned into a war with multiple international powers on the ground.

Syria devalued its currency by 44 percent last month after being cornered by the international community with another round of sanctions.

The United States implemented the Caesar Act, which imposed further measures on Assad and for the first time his wife Asma in addition to other international figures, such as Russia and Iran, the two main allies of the Syrian regime which are seeking to gain economically from the country’s reconstruction.

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