Assad nominated for another 7-year term in office

Syrian President Bashar Assad said Thursday his country would not recognize a US-mandated international tribunal on the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri if it infringes on Syrian sovereignty. The comments indicated Syria would not cooperate with the court if it indicts Syrian citizens for the killing, setting the stage for a possible confrontation with the UN if the tribunal is created. Assad made the comments in a speech to parliament, where his ruling Baath Party nominated him for a second seven-year term in office. Assad spoke at the opening session of a new parliament, formed in elections last month in which opposition parties were not allowed to participate. Under the constitution, the 250-member rubber-stamp parliament must be dominated by the Baath and allied parties, with the rest of the seats filled by independents.