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Syrian Group Envisions Transition From Assad

posted Aug 29, 2012, 5:09 PM by Syrian Transition   [ updated Aug 29, 2012, 5:09 PM ]
28 Aug 2012 (The New York Times) Representatives from Syria’s political opposition presented a road map Tuesday that they hope will serve as a guide to the democratic transition of power in their country after the expected fall of President Bashar al-Assad.

Called “The Day After Project: Supporting a Democratic Transition in Syria,” the report was drawn up by 45 opposition representatives from political and religious organizations inside the country and in exile.

The group met over the past half-year for a series of secret conferences in Berlin to agree on several basic points they say are necessary to prevent their country from slipping into chaos should Mr. Assad leave power. Respect for human rights and a rule of the law constitute the underlying principles that are to guide the rebuilding of the state, including drawing up a new constitution, reforming the electoral system and changing social and economic policy.

“The project aims to be a response, in helping the Syrians, empowering them to take their destiny back into their hands, back from the rule of arms and terror, into the rule of law and democracy,” said Afra Jalabi, a political scientist based in Montreal who is a member of the project’s executive committee.

The project was initiated by the United States Institute of Peace, based in Washington, in partnership with the German Institute for International and Security Affairs in Berlin and supported by other European countries. Participants included women as well as men, members of the Syrian National Council, the Muslim Brotherhood and other opposition groups, those with experience in the Free Syrian Army and youth activists.

The document is the first of its kind from the Syrian opposition, which has been plagued by infighting and power struggles. It offers recommendations for writing a new constitution and principles for institution building, and cites South Africa’s post-apartheid transition as potentially “instructive.”

On Monday, François Hollande, the French president, said that Paris would recognize a provisional Syrian government as soon as it had been formed, in the most forceful call to date by a Western country for Mr. Assad’s ouster. But the opposition representatives said in Berlin that the international community needed to do more to back their struggle.

“Whilst we are grateful and we appreciate everything the international community has so far provided us, I still think there is more to be done,” said Amr al-Azm, a professor of history at Shawnee State University in Ohio, who serves on the National Change Current. “Those who are struggling for their lives need to be given the necessary tools, beyond just words, to help bring down the regime.”