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UN Syria envoy announces failure of constitutional talks amid allegations of regime stalling

Pedersen said talks had failed [Getty]

Date of publication: 30 November, 2019

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The United Nations-sponsored constitutional committee includes 150 delegates, 50 representing the Assad regime, 50 representing the opposition, and 50 representing civil society.
The UN’s envoy to Syria, Geir Pedesen, has announced the failure of the second round of talks between the Syrian regime and the opposition to write a new constitution for Syria.

The talks were supposed to take place last week in Geneva, but a disagreement between regime and opposition negotiators over the agenda prevented any meetings taking place.

The United Nations-sponsored constitutional committee includes 150 delegates, 50 representing the Assad regime, 50 representing the opposition, and 50 representing civil society.

A smaller group of 45 negotiators has been given the responsibility of writing out the constitution’s text.

"It was not possible to call for a meeting of the small body of 45 [negotiators] because there has not been an agreement on the agenda,” Pedersen told reporters.

Read also: A small step towards the fight for justice for Assad's victims

“We are trying to reach agreement but this hasn’t happened yet,” he added.

Negotiators from the civil society delegation told The New Arab’s affiliate Syria TV that Pedersen had not set a date for the next round of talks and that he planned to visit Damascus to meet with Russian, Iranian, and Turkish officials for further discussions on the agenda.

Syria TV’s reporter in Geneva said that the regime had rejected five proposals from the opposition for a meeting agenda.

Opposition negotiators had previously accused the regime of deliberately sabotaging the negotiations by refusing to submit its own proposal for an agenda and demanding that the opposition sign up to a document condemning Turkey.

Most of the Syrian opposition is based in Turkey. The opposition also believe that the regime’s current military attack on Idlib province is part of a strategy to ensure the failure of the constitutional committee and a political solution to the Syrian conflict.

“What was presented [by the regime] was something merely political,” Yahia al-Aridi, a senior opposition spokesman said.

The opening sessions of the constitutional committee took place earlier in November. For years the formation of the committee had been delayed over differences regarding its composition.

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