The UN-backed talks aimed at revising the constitution involve delegations from the Syrian government, the opposition and civil society.
Delegates from the Syrian government, opposition and civil society have started a new round of meetings aimed at overhauling the war-torn country’s constitution.
The launch of the fifth round of the so-called Constitutional Committee on Monday came days after the UN Special Envoy for Syria, Geir Pedersen, told the UN Security Council that many topics have been debated for over year and that it was now time for the committee to ensure that “the meetings were better organized and more focused”.
The latest talks also come nearly 10 years after the Syrians followed their neighbors and joined in the Arab Spring, a wave of protests that has spread across the Arab world, starting with Tunisia and Egypt.
But what started as peaceful anti-government protests in March 2011 quickly turned into a bloody multi-year war.
The Syrian conflict has killed more than 500,000 people and displaced half of the country’s 23 million pre-war inhabitants, including more than 5 million refugees, mainly in neighboring countries.
“I think we need to make sure that the committee starts to move from ‘preparing’ for constitutional reform to ‘drafting’ reform, as it is mandated to do,” Pedersen said last week. .
The United States and several Western allies have accused Syrian President Bashar al-Assad – who has been in power since 2000 – of deliberately delaying the drafting of a new constitution to waste time until the presidential elections are held this year. year and avoid the UN supervised vote as planned. by the United Nations Security Council.
According to Syrian electoral law, presidential elections are expected to take place between April 16 and May 16, at least 90 days before al-Assad’s seven-year term expires.
At a Syrian peace conference hosted by Russia in January 2018, an agreement was reached to form a committee of 150 members to draft a new constitution, which lasted until September 2019.
A 45-member committee, known as the “Small Body,” began its meetings in Geneva on Monday with 15 people representing each party.
The High Negotiations Committee – which represents the Syrian opposition – said on its Twitter page that members would discuss the “basic principles of the constitution … and basic rules of procedure” of the constitutional committee.
The committee members reviewed their work plan in accordance with this week’s agenda to discuss the basic principles of the constitution, in accordance with the mandate, terms of reference and basic rules of procedure of the Constitutional Committee.
– The Syrian Negotiating Commission – The Constitutional Committee, SNC-CC (@SyrConst) 25 January 2021
Meanwhile, the main opposition representative, Hadi al-Bahra, told the DPA news agency that the talks need a clear timetable “which cannot exceed several months”.
“Ending the human tragedy in Syria is our duty,” al-Bahra said in a written message. He demanded results “as soon as possible, which can in no case exceed several months”.