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Syrian opposition demands Assad's resignation

Syrians attend a meeting of opposition factions aiming at a plan for the demise President Bashar al-Assad in the Turkish coastal

Source | Agencies
Antalya | 03 Jun 2011

Syria's exiled opposition called on President Bashar al-Assad on Thursday to resign immediately and hand power to the vice president until a council is formed to transform the country to democracy at the end of the "Change in Syria Conference" held in Turkish province of Antalya on Thursday.

"The delegates have committed to the demands of the Syrian people to bring down the regime and support the people's revolution for freedom and dignity," said a communique issued by 300 delegates at the conclusion of the two-day meeting in Turkey.

Some 300 Syrian activists, mostly exiles, representing a broad spectrum of political forces opposed to Assad's regime, attended the Antalya talks, the largest gathering of the opposition since the revolt broke out.

"Advisory committee"

On the last day of the Antalya conference, Syrian opposition members elected an advisory committee in order to implement the decisions taken during the conference and to assist the Syrian people in getting their voice heard in the international arena.

Receiving 203 votes out of a total of 253 votes, the 31-member advisory council consists of four individuals from the Damascus Declaration, four individuals from Muslim Brotherhood, four individuals from Syrian Kurds, four individuals from Syrian youth, three individuals from Syrian women, three individuals from Alevis, one individual from both Druze people and Christians and seven individuals from the independents.

In a statement made Thursday, a member of the advisory committee, Molham al-Drobi, who is also a leader of the Muslim Brotherhood in Canada, said that the names in the advisory council were from different political parties, ethnic and religious groups.

The advisory committee has two tasks: preparing a road map for Syria and electing an administrative committee that will implement the action plan, al-Drobi stressed.

"We are proposing that Bashar al-Assad leave peacefully by transferring powers to his assistants as indicated in the Syrian Constitution. If he does what we ask for, he will earn time and prevent bloodshed. If he was to refuse to act, we will hold him accountable and responsible for everything that would happen in Syria. We will support our people for a revolution and continue to increase pressure. We are giving al-Assad a chance to leave Syria to the Syrian people," al-Drobi said.

Asked about what the sect of the new Syrian administration would be, al-Drobi said that "the Syrian revolution was not against any group".

"The administration would not be against Alevi people. We have three Alevi members in our committee. We are only against dictatorship," al-Drobi underlined.

Al-Drobi said that they would convene again to elect the nine-member administrative committee and that they would prepare a road map based on the suggestions made during the conference in Antalya.

"No to any foreign intervention"

The communique said the opposition refuses any foreign intervention - such as the NATO air strikes in Libya - to topple Assad and that the revolt in Syria is a national movement "that does not aim to undermine any sect", in reference to Syria's Alawite minority, from which the ruling hierarch and most of the security apparatus are drawn.

"Everything must be done to preserve Syria's unity and territorial integrity," their statement read.

The conference, the first by activists since the uprising against Assad erupted 11 weeks ago, elected a 31 member consultative council to support the demonstrations and help raise international pressure against Assad.

"This is the first time that the opposition has met on this scale. The message is clear: the Syrian are united to achieve the national goal of peaceful democratic change," said Najib Ghadbian a political science professor who was elected to the council.

"Children's Friday" protests

Anti-regime activists in Syria have called for "Children's Friday" protests to honour the children killed in the uprising, such as 13-year-old Hamza al-Khatib whom activists say was tortured to death, a charge denied by the authorities.

"The people want the fall of the regime. Tomorrow, it's 'Children's Friday' of rising up against injustice, like the adults," the activists announced on their Facebook page Syrian Revolution 2011, an engine of the revolt.

The UN children's agency UNICEF says at least 30 children have been shot dead in the revolt against Assad's autocratic rule which erupted in mid-March.

UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon's special advisors on prevention of genocide and responsibility to protect civilian populations expressed alarm on Thursday at Syria's mounting death toll.

"We are particularly alarmed at the apparently systematic and deliberate attacks by police, military, and other security forces against unarmed civilians," said advisors Francis Deng and Edward Luck.

More than 1,100 civilians have been killed and at least 10,000 arrested in a brutal crackdown on almost daily anti-regime demonstrations in Syria since March 15, rights organisations say.

The government insists the unrest is the work of "armed terrorist gangs" backed by Islamists and foreign agitators.


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