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Syrian political process must not be delayed any further

By Zhong Sheng (People's Daily)

09:23, May 19, 2012

Edited and translated by People's Daily Online

The situation in Syria remains complex. On the one hand, violence between government and opposition forces has decreased since the implementation of a ceasefire. On the other hand, unexpected bomb blasts have caused heavy casualties in Damascus, the country's capital, and other Syrian cities.

The United Nations is working to send more military observers to Syria to enhance monitoring of the ceasefire. The U.N. monitoring mission has greatly reduced the likelihood of Syria's opposing parties breaking the ceasefire. Opposition groups have shifted from launching large-scale protests to carrying out bombing and other sneak attacks, while the government forces are mainly counter-attacking. This confrontational situation is unlikely to change in the short term.

Both Syria's opposing parties and other countries will not lightly abandon Kofi Annan, who is making steady progress in mediation despite all difficulties. Ensuring an effective and sustainable ceasefire is a top priority for all parties concerned. Any Syrian party would face enormous political pressure and pay a heavy price if it re-ignited bloody conflict and drove away U.N. observers.

The ceasefire is unlikely to be effectively implemented if an inclusive Syrian-led political process is not launched. While consolidating the existing ceasefire, all parties concerned should make practical efforts to promote the inclusive political process. Syria just held its first ever multi-party parliamentary election, which can be regarded as a welcome gesture by the Syrian government. Although the majority of opposition groups participated in the election, a boycott by major opposition groups weakened the authoritativeness of the election results, leaving the deadlock over the political process unresolved.

The launch of the political process ultimately depends on the Syrian government and opposition forces. It is a test to the two sides' sincerity and magnanimity, and also a test of whether the Syrian people can grasp the opportunity to determine their own destiny. The United Nations should provide practical help to Syria in this regard. Through a review of the Syrian crisis, one can easily see the importance of outside powers reaching a basic consensus on key issues concerning the fate of Syria. Such consensus is a precondition for the United Nations' active and effective role in resolving the Syrian issue.

An effective ceasefire is the practical foundation for an inclusive political process in Syria. Without such a process, it will be impossible to get to the core of the Syrian issue. Annan has warned that his mediating mission was not unlimited in time. The Syrian political process must not be delayed any further.

Read the Chinese version: 叙利亚政治进程不能一拖再拖(国际论坛)

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