Thursday, June 30, 2011

Syria: US presses for opposition dialogue with Assad - Guardian UK

Details emerge of a controversial 'roadmap' for reforms that would leave him in power despite demands for his overthrow

The US is pushing the Syrian opposition to maintain dialogue with Bashar al-Assad's regime as details emerge of a controversial "roadmap" for reforms that would leave him in power for now despite demands for his overthrow during the country's bloody three-month uprising.

Bashar al-Assad
Syria's president Bashar al-Assad has mentioned proposed changes in public,
but some fear he is trying to buy time and brush up his image. Photograph: AP
Syrian opposition sources say US state department officials have been discreetly encouraging discussion of the unpublished draft document, which circulated at an unprecedented opposition conference held on Monday in Damascus. But Washington denies backing it.

Assad would oversee what the roadmap calls "a secure and peaceful transition to civil democracy". It calls for tighter control over the security forces, the disbanding of "shabiha" gangs accused of atrocities, the legal right to peaceful demonstrations, extensive media freedoms, and the appointment of a transitional assembly.

The carefully phrased 3,000-word document demands a "clear and frank apology" and accountability for organisations and individuals who "failed to accommodate legitimate protests", and compensation for the families of victims. The opposition says 1,400 people have been killed since mid-March. The government says 500 members of the security forces have died.