Syrian opposition convenes in Istanbul, leader tells Assad to go

Syrian opposition gathered in Istanbul prior to the 2nd Geneva Conference, while former SMDK head Khatib announced an initiative "as a way out from the catastrophe"

Syrian opposition convenes in Istanbul, leader tells Assad to go

World Bulletin/News Desk

Syrian opposition has convened in Istanbul ahead of Geneva talks to determine the names of the attendees following the resignation of the President of Syrian National Coalition for Opposition and Revolutionary Forces (SMDK) Moaz al-Khatib.      

The General Assembly is to end on May 25, according to a statement released by SMDK.      

While addition of new members to SMDK are expected, the presidency committee composed of 63 coalition members, president, three deputy presidents and a secretary general will be re-elected.      

Louay Safi from the Syrian National Council, former President Moaz al-Khatib, Interim President George Sabra and activist Ahmed Salih Tu'me are among the nominees for SMDK presidency.      

The approval of the cabinet formed by Prime Minister Ghasan Hito of Syrian interim government is among the other issues on the agenda of the assembly. Members of SMDK will give vote of confidence to the new cabinet.      

Other issues to be discussed are whether the interim government would be announced prior to the 2nd Geneva Conference and would the opposition attend the conference.

Meanwhile, former SMDK head Moaz al-Khatib announced an initiative for the opposition on his Facebook page.

A Syrian opposition leader urged President Bashar al-Assad to hand power to his deputy or his prime minister and then go abroad with 500 members of his entourage, without immunity from prosecution.

Assad is likely to reject or ignore the 16-point peace plan proposed by Moaz Alkhatib, who resigned as head of the Western-backed opposition National Coalition in March, particularly given recent military gains by his forces against rebels.

However, Alkhatib's proposal shows a willingness to work with people associated with Assad throughout the revolt and will be seen as stretching out a hand to members of the government.

It is unclear if Alkhatib's proposal will win support from other Syrian opposition figures gathering in Istanbul on Thursday to decide how to respond to a U.S.-Russian proposal to convene peace talks involving Assad's government next month.

The Sunni Muslim cleric's plan, posted on his Facebook page, calls on Assad to step down in favour of Prime Minister Wael al-Halki or Vice-President Farouq al-Shara, a veteran politician who has kept a low profile since the revolt began in March 2011, prompting opposition claims last year that he planned to defect.

Alkhatib said Assad should respond within 20 days and that he should then be given a month to dissolve parliament. Once Assad had ceded power, his government should stay in office for 100 days and restructure the military before handing over to a transitional government "which should be agreed upon and negotiated within the framework of international assurances".

Alkhatib's plan calls on the Syrian leader to leave the country with 500 of his chosen supporters, and their families, but offers them no legal immunity from prosecution.

The initiative also calls for the release of all political prisoners and opening Syria up to all types of humanitarian relief, something the government has tightly controlled.

Khatib called the Assad regime and the opposition to adopt the initiative "as a way out from the catastrophe", and  listed the guidelines as follows:

1- The current President of the Syrian regime declares his acceptance of a peaceful transition of authority, and the handing over of full powers to either Vice President Mr. Farooq Al Shar’a or current Prime Minister Mr. Wael Al Halqi, within twenty days of the publication of this initiative;

2- The current president dissolves the current parliament and his legislative powers are handed over to the person chosen to take the temporary role of president;

3- After his acceptance of peaceful transition, the current president will be given a time period of one month to completely hand over authority;

4- The current government continues to work on a temporary basis (for one hundred days) beginning from the day the person chosen to take the temporary role of president is assigned;

5- The assigned person is given full executive powers to manage Syria excluding any authority to delegate any blacklisted members by the international community;

6- The interim government restructures the security and military systems (during a one hundred day time period);

7- Once the initiative is accepted, all political prisoners must be released from prisons as well as any detainees. This should be done under the international surveillance, and all measures should be taken for the return of those displaced from home;

8- All the Syrian territories will be open to all types of local and international humanitarian relief;

9- The current president leaves the country along with five hundred people whom he will select along with their families and children to any other country that may choose to host them;

10- There are no legal guarantees for the current president or any of those five hundred departing because this matter should be referred to a legal council agreed upon by the Syrian people;

11- The General Secretary of the United Nations is to delegate an international mediator with the responsibility of overseeing the interim phase in Syria, ensuring commitment to it and supervising the transition of authorities.

12- All parties involved in the fighting are to halt the usage of heavy weapons under international monitoring.

13- All those involved in what is considered “legal military action” as defined by the international law during the war are issued a general pardon, however, all those commands that were issued regarding killing, the targeting of civilians, torture, rape, and kidnapping are considered as criminal offences and the perpetrators must be put to trial under criminal law, both nationally and internationally;

14- In each governorate a committee will be established consisting of five people who will be selected by the dignitaries of the respective governorates for its management, while under international supervision, and this committee will be given full authority for the management of local affairs, including the administrative, economic, security and military affairs, and is directly affiliated to the person who is assigned as temporary president, or someone else whom he delegates;

15- Following the one hundred days, after implementing the articles of the initiative, all powers of authority are to be transferred to a transitional government which should be agreed upon and negotiated within the framework of international assurances;

16- The subsequent transitional government will be responsible for the preparation and the re-building of the new Syria.

Syrian rebel commander sees slim chance of FSA participation

A Free Syrian Army commander said Thursday its was highly unlikely that their rebel army would participate in a planned Geneva conference in June that would seek a peaceful settlement to the Syria crisis.      

Muhammad Allouche, a member of FSA General Staff of the Supreme Joint Military Command Council, however said a final decision would be made later Thursday in a meeting in Istanbul.      

"If we were to sit around the table to talk to Assad after so many deaths, it would mean we consider Assad and his regime innocent," Allouche said.      

He said their decision over the Geneva conference will be made public after a separate FSA meeting.  

Güncelleme Tarihi: 23 Mayıs 2013, 17:14