Saturday, 16 July 2011

Echoes of the Consultative Meeting for National Dialogue in Syria

Syria National DialogueSYRIA- Three days of talks on reform in Syria have come to an end, with participants issuing a statement calling for the release of political prisoners and detainees who have not been convicted of any crime. The purpose of the talks was to discuss legislation and political reforms that would permit a multiparty system and end the decades-old emergency law that's been the pillar of President al-Assad's authoritarian regime.

The consultative meeting of Syria had discussed constitutional amendments, including the article providing that the Baath party is the leader of state and society, and found that many articles need revising.

The meeting said in a statement that a legal political committee should be formed to review all items of the constitution and present suggestions to work out a new modern constitution which can guarantee the social justice, multi-party system, and the basic rights of human beings.

The meeting has also discussed the proposed drafts of laws of elections, parties and media, and agreed to ask the commissions that were recently formed to prepare the draft laws in order to put forward the final version for endorsement as soon as possible, according to the statement.

The statement said what has been presented were merely "documents and general directions that would be put forward to the national dialogue conference."

After while; the participants called for an immediate release of all political prisoners, stressing that the right of expression should be guaranteed.

Presidential Political and Media Advisor Dr. Bouthaina Shaaban said on Tuesday that the consultative meeting for national dialogue was very successful, and that every issue was discussed.

In a statement to the press, Shaaban said that a good thing that was discovered during the meeting was the youth who are enthusiastic for the peaceful, dialogue-based and democratic path, noting that these youth have a lot of potential and talents.

"Syria's future will be good as long as these young men and women are talking about what should happen and how it should happen and participating to building the new Syria," she added.

Participants in the Consultative Meeting for National Dialogue in Syria affirmed on Tuesday that the meeting's closing statement expressed the hopes and aspirations of the Syrian street in order to preserve national unity, establishing the bases for future Syria as a modern pluralistic country and drawing up the features of the national dialogue conference.

In a statement, Hanin Nemr said that the meeting is a necessity for Syrian society which was expedited by the events, and that it opened new prospects for Syria.

He said that he had hoped for all opposition groups to attend the meeting because the bar was raised beyond the national opposition's standards, affirming that the meeting's success cannot be measured by how much it satisfied some people.

Nemr also noted that the closing statement stipulated for continuing communication and discussions to hold the national dialogue conference, particularly since differences with the opposition are shrinking.

In turn, Dr. Elias Najmeh said that the closing statement sums up the discussions and ideas posed during the past two days and constitutes a step ford, laying down the bases for finding solutions in the future.

He stressed the need for people to understand the importance of this statement in order for it to reflect positively on the situation, particularly since it calls for calming and peaceful dialogue that acknowledges everyone.

For his part, Omar Osi described the closing statement as "powerful by all standards, establishing for future Syria as a modern, pluralistic and democratic country governed by social justice and the rule of law."

He pointed out that the meeting is a historic and pivotal point in Syria's history in term of discussions which tackled the bills for the new parties, elections and media laws and amending the constitution.

In turn, Baha'a al-Din Hasan called on the street to consider the closing statement carefully, saying that it can be used as an agenda for the national dialogue conference.

He added that the statement's articles are in the interest of the street and that they will help put an end to bloodshed and preserve national unity and interests.

For his part, Dr. Abdulsalam Rajeh said that the closing statement fulfilled the street's desire and encompasses all Syrians since it's based on reality.

In turn, Manar Haroun said that all participants agreed that Syria comes first and the same applies to its symbols, and that the closing statement was reached through freedom and accord and that it represents a start for uplifting Syria.

"The Consultative Meeting was democratic… this democracy is new, bold and real… a common formula was reached, expressing the opinion of all participants for the sake of the country so that we do not form a weak point from inside and become an easy target for those outside," she added.

The meeting, presided over by Syrian Vice-President Farouk al- Sharaa, was a prelude for the national dialogue conference that would supposedly lay foundations for the transition of Syria towards a democratic state.

The nearly four-month unrest in Syria has sparked the need for dialogue to find an outlet. However, the opposition activists, most of whom live outside Syria, said it's too late for any effort to bridge the gap between the government and the protesters.

The activists said the security forces have killed more than 1, 400 people across Syria since the beginning of the unrest in mid- March, while the authorities dispute the toll, putting the blame for the unrest on gangs and armed groups that aim to foment a sectarian strife in the country.
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