A look at what each party ex­pects from the con­sti­tu­tional talks to end war

The National - News - - NEWS - Mina Aldroubi

The Syr­ian Con­sti­tu­tional Com­mit­tee gath­ered in Geneva last week to be­gin de­lib­er­a­tions on po­lit­i­cal re­forms that will lead to elec­tions and an end to more than eight years of war.

The gov­ern­ment, op­po­si­tion and civil so­ci­ety each have 50 mem­bers on the com­mit­tee.

Com­mit­tee mem­bers ex­changed views on their vi­sion for Syria on Wed­nes­day but it was un­clear whether a new con­sti­tu­tion would be drawn up or whether amend­ments would be made to the cur­rent doc­u­ment that was adopted in 2012. A core “draft­ing body” of 45 par­tic­i­pants – 15 from each side – will carry out the hard work of flesh­ing out the text.

De­ci­sions re­quire the sup­port at least of 75 per cent of the del­e­gates to pre­vent any one group from dom­i­nat­ing the de­bate and im­pos­ing its agenda.

Here’s a look at what each of the three del­e­ga­tions hope to achieve:

The op­po­si­tion

It says that a new con­sti­tu­tion must bring about a clear sep­a­ra­tion of pow­ers for the po­lit­i­cal process to move for­ward. The com­mit­tee’s op­po­si­tion co-chair­man, Hadi Al Bahra, told The Na­tional that the ex­ec­u­tive, leg­isla­tive and ju­di­cial branches of gov­ern­ment “must be com­pletely sep­a­rate from the other in or­der for them to each be equally rep­re­sented”.

“When we dis­cuss the is­sue of a con­sti­tu­tion, we have to be se­ri­ous about all ar­ti­cles; the most im­por­tant is the sep­a­ra­tion of power,” he said.

The new con­sti­tu­tion must “put Syria and its peo­ple above any con­sid­er­a­tion”, said

Yahya Al Aridi, a mem­ber of the op­po­si­tion del­e­ga­tion.

“We are as­pir­ing for a doc­u­ment that re­spects the dig­nity of hu­man be­ings, gives them the right to live as they please,” he said. “We want the con­sti­tu­tion to never al­low the Syr­ian tragedy to re­turn.”

The gov­ern­ment

Pres­i­dent Bashar Al As­sad’s gov­ern­ment has not ex­pressed a clear vi­sion of what it ex­pects from the talks. So far, Da­m­as­cus has re­ferred to them merely as a dis­cus­sion about Syria’s con­sti­tu­tion.

The Syr­ian gov­ern­ment co-chair­man, Ah­mad Kuzbari, said on Wed­nes­day that the coun­try al­ready had a mod­ern con­sti­tu­tion, but he was open to con­sid­er­ing “any pos­si­ble amend­ments or even a new con­sti­tu­tion”. Mem­bers of the op­po­si­tion said they were “sur­prised” by the gov­ern­ment’s an­nounce­ment. For­eign Min­is­ter Walid Al Muallem said pre­vi­ously that amend­ing “a few ar­ti­cles in the con­sti­tu­tion would be enough to con­sider that the con­sti­tu­tion is new”.

“We were sur­prised by the regime’s state­ment that they are open to es­tab­lish­ing a new con­sti­tu­tion be­cause they did not say that be­fore,” an op­po­si­tion mem­ber told The

Na­tional. “Great pres­sure has been ex­erted on Da­m­as­cus to show their se­ri­ous­ness dur­ing th­ese talks.” He also said that it could be a “sign of good­will but we re­main sus­pi­cious”.

Civil so­ci­ety

The Syr­ian civil so­ci­ety del­e­ga­tion says its main pri­or­ity is “putting the pub­lic’s needs above ev­ery­thing else”.

“Our work is to en­sure that the Syr­ian ci­ti­zen has a guar­an­teed fu­ture by rad­i­cally chang­ing the regime and its lead­ers,” del­e­gate Samira Moubayed told The Na­tional.

“The gov­ern­ment has limited the pub­lic’s free­dom for the last 50 years and this has re­sulted in what we are see­ing to­day.”

How­ever, the three sides have found com­mon ground in ac­knowl­edg­ing that the road ahead re­mains chal­leng­ing.

They ad­mit that the con­sti­tu­tional com­mit­tee alone can­not push for a po­lit­i­cal so­lu­tion in Syria, but is a part of a wider ef­fort to achieve peace.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UAE

© PressReader. All rights reserved.