UN special envoy calls Syrian constitution committee a 'sign of hope'

NEW YORK (dpa)- The United Nations special envoy for Syria on Monday said a committee to draft a new Syrian constitution is a "sign of hope" for the war-torn country as he outlined the body's structure.
"This should be a sign of hope for the long-suffering Syrian people," Geir Pedersen said at a Security Council meeting.

Pedersen said that as the "first concrete political agreement" between the government and opposition, the committee could be "a door-opener for a wider political process."
But he warned that "seizing this opportunity will not be easy" as the nation continues to be mired in violence, with "five international armies operating on its territory" nearly eight years into its devastating war.
Pedersen said the committee will have two "equal co-chairs" from government and opposition; a 45-person body consisting of 15 government, 15 opposition and 15 civil society members to prepare and draft proposals; and a 150-person body with 50 members from each sector, to discuss and adopt proposals – with a 75-per-cent decision-making threshold.
"The future constitution of Syria belongs to the Syrian people and them alone," Pedersen stressed, adding that reforms "must be popularly approved."
Pedersen added that members' names will be released once they have been confirmed and noted that the civil society delegates are from different religious, ethnic and geographical backgrounds, and nearly half are women.
The UN envoy thanked Russia, Turkey and Iran for their support of the agreement, which will see the committee meet for the first time on October 30 in Geneva.
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres announced the constitutional committee last week at the UN General Assembly.

Tuesday, October 1st 2019

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