Middle East

Opposition proposes transition road map

A Free Syrian Army fighter looks at damaged buildings and debris on a street in Aleppo's Salaheddine neighbourhood August 12, 2013. REUTERS/Ammar Abdullah

BEIRUT: Syrian opposition activists, including National Coalition members, have drawn up a transitional road map including a call for national reconciliation and justice for “all of Syria’s victims,” a statement said Tuesday.

The announcement came as fierce fighting continued across Syria, particularly intensifying in the central Hama province, where 18 rebels and a child were killed Tuesday. It also came amid reports of abuses carried out by both regime forces and rebels.

The road map is to be presented in full Wednesday in the presence of National Coalition chief Ahmad Jarba, but has not been officially endorsed by the key opposition group.

“National reconciliation will be achieved through a long transitional justice process in which justice is assured for all of Syria’s victims,” said the statement.

While the country’s uprising began with peaceful anti-government demonstrations in March 2011, it has turned into a bloody war that has left more than 100,000 people dead. Both sides have been accused of summary executions, sectarian killings and torture.

The proposal also calls for restructuring Syrian security forces to uproot “corrupt officials.”

“All armed groups will be disarmed, demobilized and reintegrated into Syrian society,” it adds.

It lays out plans for the country’s political system after the fall of the Syrian regime, calling for a “hybrid presidential/parliamentary system.”

And it proposes using the country’s 1950 constitution as the basis for a new charter, with an elected constitutional assembly mandated to decide on modifications.

The 1950 constitution was the first in Syria to be drafted by a constituent assembly, but has subsequently been replaced. It gave the legislature more power than the executive, and states that the head of state must be a Muslim.

The group behind the proposal, Syrian Expert House, includes some 300 activists, lawyers and members of the National Coalition and Syrian National Council.

Defected government officials and rebel commanders also participated in the drafting process, the group said.

More than 200 pages spell out, in often minute detail, a plan for how best to manage a transition in the event the regime of President Bashar Assad falls.

It argues for war crimes tribunals to be held in Syria with international experts providing advice, and pledges that trials will cover all those accused of abuses.

“The goal is not to target a specific religious group,” the document says, adding “there is no place for the policies of revenge or retaliation.”

“Even members of the armed opposition must be held accountable, and their trials should be conducted according to international standards.”

The document is unlikely to sit well with the most extreme of Syria’s rebels, jihadists with the Al-Qaeda-affiliated Nusra Front and Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria.

The groups have made clear their goal is for a greater Islamic nation, and that a pluralistic democracy is not on the table.

The road map could even incur the anger of more moderate Islamists, including the Muslim Brotherhood organization, with its proposal that election laws exclude parties “founded on a religious, racial or doctrinal basis.”

Meanwhile in Syria, there have been fierce battles in eastern Deir al-Zor, Hama and coastal Latakia, Assad’s home province.

At least 18 Syrian rebels and a child were killed in violence in the central province of Hama Tuesday, according to the opposition-aligned Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Near Morek in Hama province, “the number of opposition fighters killed [early Tuesday] has risen to 18,” said the Britain-based Observatory. They were killed in clashes and army shelling on their positions and ammunition stockpiles, the group said.

In the Sahel al-Ghab area of Hama, a 10-year-old child was killed in army shelling, the Observatory said.

The deaths come amid a major rebel escalation in eastern Hama, which is strategically located in the heart of Syria and links several flashpoint areas to each other.

Activists say several rebel groups have joined forces recently to fight two simultaneous battles in the area – one called “We are coming, Homs,” the other “The single body.”





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