While diplomatic efforts continue to fail to put an end to the civil conflict in Syria, President Assad has just agreed to a national vote on Syria’s new constitution. Amendments to the country’s elitist constitution were one of the original key demands of the Syrian opposition but a year into the conflict the rebels now want the ousting of the Assad regime.
What are the major changes in the newly drafted constitution?
1. The draft introduces a multi party state regime compared to a one party Baathist rule, that emphasises the importance of democracy and fair elections.
2. The presidential term will be limited to a maximum of two seven year terms as opposed to the current constitution.
3. It allows for the creation of political parties which are not based on religion, profession, or regional interests.
4. And finally it removes article 8 of the constitution which makes the Baath Party the exclusive leader of both politics and society.
Following the referendum which will take place on Sunday February 26, 2012 Syria will witness parliamentary elections within a period of 90 days. The Syrian opposition has rejected Assad’s initiative labelling it as a ‘new trick in the book’.
Is this a step forward to a possible end to the civil conflict? Can a referendum be carried out properly during a civil crisis? Will the opposition change its stance on the matter?