Assad says transitional govt must include regime and opposition

Syria's Bashar al Assad says transitional government must include regime and opposition

Photo by: Reuters (Archive)
Photo by: Reuters (Archive)

Syria's Bashar al Assad.

Syria's Bashar al Assad announced on Wednesday that a transitional government in Syria must involve both the regime and opposition.

During an interview with Russia’s RIA Novosti state news agency he said it would be "logical for there to be independent forces, opposition forces and forces loyal to the government represented there."

Peace talks in Geneva to end the conflict in Syria stalled last week due to disagreement over Assad’s future. The Syrian oppossition has strongly demanded he must give up power before a transitional government can be formed.

Assad did not talk about his future in the interview with RIA but stated the formation of a transitional government should be the result of compromise in the talks in Switzerland.

"There are many questions that need to be discussed in Geneva, but there are not difficult questions," Assad said. "I don't consider them difficult, they can all be resolved."

The Russian Interfax news agency quoted a Syrian opposition figure as saying on Tuesday that Russia’s call not to discuss the future of the Assad regime could halt peace negotiations.

On this issue, Riad Nassan Agha, a member of the opposition High Negotiations Committee (HNC), told Interfax that, "It is obvious that this statement aims to stop the process of negotiations and to deprive the High Negotiating Council of any hope to continue the talks."

"What else are we going to discuss if we are not going to discuss Assad's fate?" he said.

Western powers and Russia state they want a transitional government and a draft constitution to come about by August, according to a plan agreed last year.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, US Secretary of State John Kerry and UN Special Envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura (L-R) arrive for a news conference after the International Syria Support Group (ISSG) meeting in Munich, February 12, 2016. (Reuters Archive)

Assad indicated a preliminary draft model of the constitution could be prepared "within a few weeks," but underlined that Syria would only accept a new constitution "after the Syrian people vote on it." 

During the interview, he also rejected a federal option for Syria and added the country was too "small" for this kind of political structure.

"From a sociological point of view, there must be components of society that may not be able live with one another for there to be a federation," Assad said, "there is none of this in Syrian history."

"The majority of Kurds want to live in a united Syria, within the framework of centralised power in political terms, and not in a federal structure," he said. 

Earlier this month, the PYD - the Syrian-affiliate of the PKK terrorist group - declared a federal region in the country’s north aimed at bringing about greater autonomy.

The declaration was rejected by the parties negotiating in Switzerland, including the Syrian regime and the UN's Syria envoy.

TRTWorld and agencies