Syria promises new constitution as UN warns of civil war | World| Breaking news and perspectives from around the globe | DW | 15.10.2011
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Syria promises new constitution as UN warns of civil war

The Syrian president has promised to rapidly draft a new constitution, a key opposition demand. The United Nations, meanwhile, has warned that civil war could break out if the international community does not act.

Syrian President Bashar al Assad

Assad has promised a new constitution for Syria

President Bashar al-Assad announced on Saturday the formation of a committee tasked with writing a new constitution for Syria as three people reportedly died in clashes with government security forces.

Assad said that drafting the constitution would take no longer than four months, according to the official SANA news agency. The 29-member committee - headed by former justice minister Mizhar al-Annbary - includes Qadri Jamil, a communist member of the so-called "international opposition" movement.

The draft constitution would require approval by a two-thirds majority in the Syrian parliament, according to Mohammed Said Bkheitan, a senior member of the ruling Baath Party. Assad supporters dominate Syria's parliament.

Under the current constitution, the Baath Party, which has been in power since 1963, serves as the "leader of the state and society," discouraging political pluralism and opposition.

In April, Assad lifted Syria's emergency laws and formed a new government. Over the summer, the Syrian president promised a national dialogue to resolve the political crisis and promised multi-party elections by February 2012.

Violence between government security forces and anti-regime demonstrators, however, has escalated since then.

Syrian soldiers in flatbed

The UN human rights chief has warned of civil war in Syria

'Civil war'

The London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, meanwhile, reported that a member of its network, Ziad Rafiq al-Obeidi, had been killed by security forces in Deir Ezzor. The anti-regime Local Coordination Committees (LCC) reported that the Syrian military had stormed several neighborhoods in the opposition hotbed of Homs.

The Syrian Observatory confirmed that security forces were in Homs and that one person had been killed during the operation.

"The army opened fire on all the entrances of the Al-Nazihin neighborhood in Homs, leading to the death of a young man who was heading to work," the organization said.

The LCC said that a third person had been shot dead in the Syrian capital, Damascus. The individual was attending the funeral of Ibrahim Al-Sheban, a child who was allegedly killed by security forces on Friday. Around 15,000 people attended the funeral, according to the LCC.

On Friday, UN human rights chief Navi Pillay said that more than 3,000 people have been killed since the government crackdown began in March, including 187 children. Pillay warned that Syria risked "a full-blown civil war" if the international community did not take action.

Author: Spencer Kimball (Reuters, AFP)
Editor: Nicole Goebel

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