Major powers report progress on new Syria constitution body

19 Décembre, 2018, 01:19 | Auteur: Anatole Charbonneau
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Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Al-Moualem, in comments reported by state media on Monday, said it was "early to talk about" the constitutional committee starting work.

In a joint statement read out by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, they said the work of the committee should be governed by a "sense of compromise and constructive engagement".

The UN said Russian Federation rejected five names that De Mistura wanted to add to the list, and the envoy's absence from the brief press conference did not bode well.

The U.N. Syria envoy was authorized to put together such a committee at a Russian-hosted peace conference in the Black Sea resort of Sochi on January 30 but its formation has been hindered by disagreements and the U.N. has accused the Syrian government of blocking efforts to draft a new constitution.

In a statement, De Mistura said there was an extra mile to go in the marathon to construct a credible and balanced constitutional committee, and his successor would have to take up the task in the new year. De Mistura stands down at the end of the year after four years as special envoy.

The Russian refusal to make further concessions will anger the U.S., but the state department's leverage in Syria as anything but a spoiler is limited.

The official Syrian opposition, the Syrian Negotiating Committee, has previously complained that the proposed committee is not politically balanced and may not touch sufficiently on the powers of the president.

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Turkey, Russia and Iran called for the launch of a "viable and lasting Syrian-led, Syrian-owned and United Nations -facilitated political process" after talks in Geneva on Tuesday, saying that a new Syrian Constitutional Committee should convene early next year.

At issue is the 50-member delegation representing civil society, experts, independents, tribal leaders and women which the government has been objecting to. The true political allegiance of the third group is critical since it will hold the political balance of power.

"There is no problem regarding the lists of the [Syrian] regime and the opposition for the constitutional commission", Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu told reporters following a trilateral meeting between the foreign ministers and U.N. Special Syria Envoy Staffan de Mistura at the U.N. offices.

He said at the weekend: "The last word is with us, with the United Nations, not with any country, as good and as powerful as they may be".

De Mistura, who is stepping down on December 31, is scheduled to brief the Security Council on Thursday.

He said: "The question throughout the entire negotiation on the committee has been: is the regime willing to give an iota of compromise to any effort by the worldwide community to try to resolve this on terms other than the regime's?" Over 40% of the territory is in other people's hands.

Under the Sochi agreement, the committee is to comprise 150 members.

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