Syrian President Sets February 26 Constitutional Referendum

By Jay Gory, thecheers.org    2012-02-15 06:10:35    

Syria's state news agency says President Bashar al-Assad has set a February 26 national referendum on a new constitution.
Syria's state news agency says President Bashar al-Assad has set a February 26 national referendum on a new constitution.

The president promised the referendum during a speech in January, saying the new document would focus on a multiparty system.

The Syrian government approved a law last July allowing the formation of political parties outside of the ruling Ba'ath party, which took power in 1963.

Hama under attack

Meanwhile, rights activists said government forces launched an assault Wednesday on the central flashpoint city of Hama. They said troops stormed residential areas of the city and that telephone lines were cut.

In Homs, about 40 kilometers to the south, activists said an explosion hit an oil pipeline near the rebel-held Sunni Muslim district of Baba Amr, sending a large plume of smoke into the air. They blame the military for the blast, while the government says "terrorists" are responsible.

One of Syria's two refineries is in Homs, and activists say a nearly two-week assault on the city by government forces has killed hundreds of people.

Syrian officials have blamed "armed terrorists" for an 11-month uprising against President Assad's autocratic rule.

UN resolution

French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said Wednesday the United Nations Security Council should discuss setting up "humanitarian corridors" to allow aid groups to access areas hit by the deadly crackdown on the opposition. France first proposed the idea in November.

On Tuesday, Arab diplomats circulated a draft resolution to U.N. General Assembly members calling on Syria to stop the crackdown and accusing the government of rights violations.

The diplomats say the resolution is likely to be put to a vote on Thursday and receive broad support in the 193-nation body.

U.N. General Assembly resolutions are non-binding and cannot be vetoed. Russia and China vetoed a U.N. Security Council resolution earlier this month, blocking the body from endorsing a Western- and Arab-backed plan for President Assad to step aside as a way of ending the crisis.

China's position

U.S. officials say President Barack Obama expressed disappointment with China's veto at a Tuesday meeting with visiting Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping. At another Washington event attended by Xi, Vice President Joe Biden said the United States "strongly disagreed" with Beijing and Moscow for vetoing a resolution against what Biden called "unconscionable violence" by the Assad government.

China's official Xinhua news agency says Xi told Biden that Beijing's position on Syria is aimed at "safeguarding peace and stability in the Middle East" and is "in line with international principles." Both China and Russia have said the Security Council must not take sides in a domestic conflict or provide a pretext for foreign military intervention in Syria.

U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said Monday the Security Council's failure to act has "emboldened" Mr. Assad to try to "crush dissent with overwhelming force."

The United Nations said last month that violence linked to the uprising has killed more than 5,400 people. U.N. officials stopped updating the death toll in January, saying it was too difficult to obtain information. Rights groups say hundreds more people have been killed since then.

Source: VOA News
Jay Gory, The Cheers News


TAGS: Middle-East   


more
NGOs official assassinated in Diala

Diala, Apr 14, (VOI) An armed group assassinated an official NGOs official near the district of al-Wajihiya, 20 km east of Baaquba city, on Monday, a security source in Diala said.

Mass grave found in Muqdadiya

Diala, Apr 14, (VOI) U.S. forces found 30 bodies buried inside a mass grave in southern al-Muqdadiya city, 45 km southeast of Baaquba, the U.S. army said in a statement on Monday.

20 killed, 53 wounded in Sadr City clashes
7.Apr 2008
Baghdad, Apr 6, (VOI) Twenty people were killed and 53 others wounded in the ...read

Iyad Allawi: Matters getting out of authority's hands 5 years after change
7.Apr 2008
Arbil, Apr 6, (VOI) Former Iraqi Premier Iyad Allawi said matters in Iraq "ar...read

Senior police officer killed in Mosul clashes
30.Mar 2008
Mosul, Mar 30, (VOI)- A senior police officer along with an escort were killed ...read



Four Shiite militiamen killed, 30 arrested in Babel

Casualties from Wassit armed clashes up to 115

3 civilians wounded in clashes in Baghdad

Thousands of Sadr City residents stage demonstration

U.S. base in Baghdad mortared