Russia, Iran, Turkey to pitch plan for Syria constitutional committee

Russia, Iran, Turkey to pitch plan for Syria constitutional committee
The three nations will submit lists of names chosen to form a UN-backed constitutional body which could pave the way to a new charter and elections.
2 min read
18 December, 2018
Women walk in the wreckage of the Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp in Damascus [Getty]
Russia, Iran and Turkey are close to drafting a constitutional committee for Syria which could pave the way to elections, diplomats have said.

Outgoing UN envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura wants to make a final push for peace through a post-war "inclusive constitution" before he leaves office at the end of the year.

The committee will be formed of 50 members chosen by Damascus, 50 by the opposition and 50 by the United Nations who would be charged with drafting a new charter for the war-torn country.

The foreign ministers of the three nations, who support opposing sides in Syria's nearly eight-year war, are to meet for talks on Tuesday in Geneva, where they are expected to seek the UN's blessing for their joint proposal, diplomats told Reuters.

Comment: A post-war Syria?

President Bashar al-Assad's government and the opposition fighting to topple him have each submitted a list of 50 names, but they have struggled to agree the final 50 members to be chosen from civil society and "independent" actors, diplomats said.

"The three countries are coming with a proposal for the third list, which has been the heart of the problem," said one diplomat.

Though it supports rebel fighters and last year branded Assad a "terrorist", Turkey and other nations would consider working with Assad if he won a democratic election, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Sunday.

De Mistura said at the weekend the constitutional committee could be a starting point for political progress.

"It does touch, for instance, on presidential powers, it could and should be touching on how elections are done, on division of power, in other words a big issue," he said.

De Mistura will be under "heavy pressure" to accept the trio's proposal to complete the make-up of the constitutional body, but may leave the decision to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in New York later this week, the diplomats said.

"The last word is with us, with the UN, not with any country, as good and as powerful as they may be," he said on Sunday.

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