DAMASCUS, Syria, Feb. 11 (UPI) -- Syrian President Bashar Assad has named his foreign minister to replace a vice president who left the country, accusing the regime of stifling dissent.
Farouk Sharaa, who has headed the foreign ministry for more than 10 years, becomes vice president for political and information affairs, in a major cabinet reshuffle.
The president tapped Gen. Bassam Abdul Majeed as interior minister. The post has been vacant since Ghazi Kanaan killed himself in October, a month after he was interviewed about the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.
Assistant Foreign Minister Walid Muallem replaces Sharaa.
Mohsen Bilal, now ambassador to Spain, becomes information minister, while Riyadh Naasan Agha was named culture minister.
Sharaa replaces Vice President Abdul Halim Khaddam, who has defected and accuses the regime of being involved in the Hariri assassination.