Syrian opposition, independent figures hold "national initiative" meeting

09:27, July 04, 2011      

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Around 200 Syrian independent and opposition figures held Sunday a meeting that aims at transiting the country to a civil, multi-party and democratic state.

The meeting is held under the title "the national initiative for Syria's future" that aims, according to its organizers, to help the transition of the country to a democratic and civil state, and to devote the language of civilized national dialogue and stop bloodshed." The meeting has started by listening to the Syrian national anthem and the participants observed a minute of silence for those who were killed in the country since the start of the protest three months ago. "We are here to maintain the will of dialogue, support political reforms announced by President Assad and to tell the whole world that there is an opportunity for a third road between the authority and the opposition," said Mohammad Habash, an organizer, at the opening speech.

"Only dialogue could rescue the country," Habash said, adding " only the political solution can end the crisis in the country ... We will reach favorable results and we will not give up."

In a statement the participants said the crisis in Syria is " basically a political one" that led to the eruption of deep social, economic and security problems, adding: "what is demanded now is a national, civilized and reformist action."

They added that national dialogue requires a convenient climate to ease congestion on street, adding that the role of security agents should be turned into to a mere protection of peaceful demonstrations.

They said all national opposition figures should return to the country to participate in the process of reforms, stressing that they are looking forward to achieve a logical and civilized amendment of the constitution, the enactment of the multi-party law and an electoral one.

They said all corrupt politicians and security agents should be held accountable, calling also for the need of presenting mechanisms for national reconciliation.

Hussein Ammash, an organizer of the event, said the Syrian authorities have absolutely no role in this conference other than the official approval.

"It's an internal crisis that should be solved inside the country," he said.

Zuhair Ghanoum, a former MP, said the participants are against "saboteurs" but also they back the demonstrators who are calling for legitimate rights.

During the meeting, some of the participants clashed by hands, when Majed Salaha, an activist and opposition figure said "I demand what the protestors on the streets want ... the downfall of the current regime."

After the clash some of the participants withdrew from the meeting including Hussein Ammash, one of the organizers, but the meeting went on.

The current unrest in Syria has sparked the need for dialogue between all forces that represent the Syrian people to find an outlet to the country's turmoil.

In his last speech, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad called for the need to conduct a comprehensive national dialogue and said this dialogue has become the title of the "current phase."

The following day, his foreign minister Walid al-Moallem said whoever wants to test Syria's seriousness to make changes in the country should take part in the dialogue to help shape the country 's future.

Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) recently reported a national political dialogue planned by al-Assad would begin on July 10 and "all factions, intellectual personalities, politicians" would be invited.

On Saturday, some 50 opposition figures announced in a statement that they would hold a "national salvation conference" in Damascus on July 16 to put forward "general principles for the future perspective to go out of the current crisis through a transitional phase to be agreed upon by all Syrians and which will be led by a national salvation government that would lay foundations for a new constitution."

Aref Dalila, a prominent economist, Haitham al-Maleh and Walid al-Bunni are among the signatories of the statement. The three were former prisoners of opinion.

Since coming to power in 2000, Syrian President Bashar al- Assad has freed political prisoners and passed laws aimed at liberalizing the state-controlled economy. But he has also clamped down on political activists, jailing pro-democracy advocates and cracking down on government critics.

Source: Xinhua
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