Syria

Syria adopts draft law enabling creation of new political parties

Manifestation contre le régime du président el-Assad à Hama le 22 juillet 2011.
Manifestation contre le régime du président el-Assad à Hama le 22 juillet 2011. REUTERS

A draft law allowing for the creation of new political parties in Syria has been adopted by the government, which is under massive international pressure to introduce reform, the state-run news agency SANA has reported Monday.

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According to the reports from SANA, the cabinet  adopted a draft law regarding political parties in Syria as part of a programme of reform aimed at enriching political life.

The decision, which was taken on Sunday, aims to create a “new dynamic” that will enable changes in the political spectrum, SANA said.

The announcement comes amid an ongoing crackdown on dissent across the country with security forces arresting dissenters in Damascus on Sunday.

In its current form, the draft law envisages a system where “party organs should not comprise any military or paramilitary elements, whether public or secret” while the party principles, objectives and funding must be clearly established.

The law also prohibits the creation of parties based on “religion, tribal affiliations, or regional interests”.

Non-Syrian parties or those that discriminate along racial lines or gender are also banned, it said.

Protesters defying the regime of President Bashar al-Assad in almost daily protests since March 15 have been demanding democratic changes, including an end to Baath hegemony.

The current constitution stipulates that the Baath party, in power since 1963, is “the leader of state and society.”

Prime Minister Adel Safar, who formed his government in April less than a month after the former premier quit in the face of anti-regime protests, in June, named a committee tasked with drafting a law on political parties.

Also in April, Assad signed a decree to lift almost five decades of draconian emergency rule and to abolish feared state security courts.

But the efforts of the president, in power since replacing his father Hafez as president in 2000, failed to garner popular support and protests have rocked the country for more than four months calling on Assad to quit.

Security forces have pursued campaigns of arrests despite the lifting of the state of emergency which authorised the arrest and interrogation of any individual while also restricting gatherings and movement.

The authorities have used force to quell dissent, with at least 1,486 civilians reported killed since mid-March, human rights groups say.

 

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