New peace plan revealed by Syrian opposition

Published September 15th, 2016 - 02:00 GMT
A rebel fighter reloads his weapon during clasahes with regime forces in Ramussa on the southwestern edges of Aleppo on August 6, 2016. (AFP/Fadi A-Halabi)
A rebel fighter reloads his weapon during clasahes with regime forces in Ramussa on the southwestern edges of Aleppo on August 6, 2016. (AFP/Fadi A-Halabi)

The Syrian opposition on Wednesday laid out a fresh proposal for the country’s transition to peace that includes regime leader Bashar al-Assad standing down after six months.

The scheme was revealed by Riyad Hijab, general coordinator of the High Negotiations Committee, an umbrella group of opposition factions, at a news conference in London.

It sets out plans for a six-month cease-fire followed by an 18-month transitional period.

“The vision is a response to the hopes and aims of the Syrian people -- for emancipation from dictatorship; the establishment of a new social contract for Syria; building a political system that protects freedoms, safeguards individual rights and that is founded upon the principles of liberty, equality, citizenship, and justice,” Hijab said.

The Executive Framework for a Political Solution is based on the 2012 Geneva communique and UN resolutions, Hijab said.

Under the peace plan, the first phase would see an end of hostilities, the lifting of sieges, the flow of humanitarian aid and the release of detainees.

Refugees and other displaced civilians would be allowed to return home and a negotiation process -- safeguarded by guarantees and with enforcement procedures in place -- would begin between the warring parties.

The second phase would see Assad stand down and be replaced with a unity government that would establish multi-party democracy and draft a new constitution.

The document said minority groups would have their rights protected and an “inclusive national dialogue” would be launched with “no exceptions or exclusions”.

The final phase would see the implementation of the results of the dialogue and constitutional reforms, with elections held under UN supervision.

The vision was announced on the same day U.K. Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson urged Russia to end Bashar al-Assad’s rule in a newspaper article. Moscow and Tehran are Assad’s main backers and he has so far refused to leave office to make way for a transitional government.

His forces are currently encircling opposition forces in Aleppo, which was the country’s largest city before the conflict began in 2011. Since then, according to the UN’s Syria envoy, around 400,000 people have been killed in the war.

Russia and the U.S., which supports some of the opposition groups, have also failed to agree terms for a fresh cease-fire after a truce initiated in February broke down.

By Ahmet Gurhan Kartal

© Copyright Andolu Ajansi

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