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Assad insists on unity government despite opposition demands

Thursday, Mar 31, 2016,10:06 IST By Metrovaartha A A A

Moscow | Syrian President Bashar al-Assad reiterated his call for a national unity government, as the White House said his inclusion would make any such proposal a non-starter. As the two sides appeared deadlocked over the political transition UN chief Ban Ki-moon highlighted the impact of the five-year conflict by urging greater efforts to tackle the country’s refugee crisis at a conference in Geneva.

In an interview published yesterday, Assad told Russia’s RIA Novosti state news agency it would be logical for there to be independent forces, opposition forces and forces loyal to the government represented in the new authorities. But he pushed back against opposition demands that it should be put in place without his participation, insisting that the transitional body they are calling for is illogical and unconstitutional.

Neither in the Syrian constitution nor in the constitution of any other country in the world is there anything that could be called a transitional body of power, Assad said. It is the national unity government that will prepare a new constitution, Assad said. Talks led by the UN’s Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura paused last week with the sides deadlocked over the fate of Assad, whom the opposition insists must leave power before a transitional government is agreed.

Syria’s main opposition High Negotiations Committee flatly rejected the demand from Assad for any transitional government to include his regime. Speak of the formation of a transitional body with full powers, including presidential powers, HNC senior member Asaad al-Zoabi said, adding Assad should not remain for even one hour after the formation of this body.

The form of the executive body that would lead Syria until its elections the UN says should be held in 18 months is the main bone of contention between the two sides. UN Security Council Resolution 2254 vaguely suggests the establishment of a body to head the political transition. For the regime, this amounts to a government reshuffle in which the opposition is included, but for the opposition it would be a transitional body with presidential powers and Assad no role.