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Syrian opposition presents constitutional plan at talks


The opposition group at the Syrian peace talks in Geneva said Thursday that it offered a set of constitutional recommendations for discussions on the fourth day of negotiations, though both sides left without commenting.

Tariq al-Kurdi, a lawyer and opposition member of the Syrian Constitutional Committee, said the proposals were being submitted during the fourth day of this week’s meetings, adding, however, that he expected opposition from the regime side.

“We requested the other side to accept negotiations on these articles. Unfortunately, not every member of the constitutional committee has the same motivation,” said Kurdi.

He said there were members of the regime side who did not want the opposition proposal to be included in this constitutional commission’s current work arena.

Geir Pedersen, the UN Syria envoy, is facilitating the five-day talks of the 45-strong Syrian Constitutional Committee aimed at a final peaceful solution after 10 years of war.

Jenifer Fenton, Pedersen’s spokeswoman, told Anadolu Agency that talks had concluded for the day but offered no further comment.

Hadi al Bahra, the former Syrian head of the National Coalition for Opposition and Revolutionary Forces (SMDK), is the co-chair for the opposition, while the regime’s co-chair is Ahmed Kuzbari, also a lawyer.

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Bahra had warned Tuesday that if concrete results were not obtained in a short time, the process would falter.

The meetings of the Syrian Constitutional Committee, which started on Oct. 30, 2019 with 150 members, are the first concrete step in drafting a new constitution to determine the future of the country.

Access to the talks and delegates arriving and leaving was closed to the press, and only UN camera operators and photojournalists were allowed in.

Responsible for drafting the constitution, the members of the “small group” which consists of 15 people from each of the Bashar Assad regime, non-governmental organizations and representatives of the Syrian opposition, met again on Jan. 25.

“We cannot find an interlocutor who can meet on common ground. We still face people who believe in a military solution,” said Kurdi.

“We expect the UN, countries that are friendly to the Syrian people and those that support the regime such as Russia to take responsibility and fulfill their duties.”

Fenton said Pedersen will hold a press conference Friday at the end of this week’s talks.

Syria has been embroiled in a vicious civil war since early 2011, when the Bashar al-Assad regime cracked down on pro-democracy protests with unexpected ferocity.

More than 5 million civilians have since been displaced.

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