Syrian academics calls for constitution amendment

14:37, July 07, 2011      

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Syrian lawmakers and academics believe that an impending amendment of the Syrian constitution, or more likely devising a new one, would almost eliminate one of the most insurmountable obstacles that have so far impeded all efforts to reach a favorable solution to the months-long crisis in the country.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has introduced a package of reforms including a cancellation of the controversial decades-long emergency law, granting three amnesty, raising public servants' salaries, reducing fuel prices, sacking some corrupt officials, and introduced many other measures in the educational, economic, medical, social and banking systems. However, all these measures don't meet the protesters' basic demand, a complete revision of the articles of the constitution, mainly the abrogation of article providing the Baath party the leader of the state and society. The Baath Party took over power in Syria following a 1963 coup. President Hafez al-Assad, who died in June 2000, came to power seven years later. His son, Bashar, has succeeded him in 2000.

George Jabbour, a former parliamentarian, told Xinhua by phone "the recent crisis in Syria has a constitutional roots," adding that "a revision of the constitution would reduce violence in the streets."

"In light of the recent developments in the country, there should be a modern constitution that would keep pace with the vision of President Assad and meets the Syrian people's aspirations," Dr. Omar al-Abdullah, dean of the political science faculty in Damascus University, told the government-run al-Thawra newspaper on Tuesday.

He also suggested the formation of a committee to draft a new constitution before it's put for a popular referendum, the report said.

"If we open the political arena for party competition, this actually means that the constitution must be revised," Dr. Hawash Shahin, a professor of the international law at the faculty of law in Damascus University told the same paper.

The local Al-Watan newspaper, which has close links to the government, said Tuesday a legal committee has been formed to study possible amendments in the Syrian constitution "to cope with the transition towards a democratic state."

Speaking to supporters at Damascus University, President Assad announced last month that a national dialogue would start soon and he was forming a committee to study constitutional amendments, including one that would open the way to forming political parties besides the ruling Baath Party.

Source: Xinhua
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