SNC plans for post-Assad

Damascus- MAP- Syria's National Council opposition group has unveiled a plan for a transitional period lasting up to 18 months if President Bashar al-Assad is toppled, but prominent Assad opponents said more unity was needed to bring his downfall.

The 260-member council, which was formed in Istanbul in September as Assad intensified a military crackdown on street protests calling for his removal, announced its political programme on Sunday.

It said the council planned to lead an interim government with the help of the military to "guarantee the security of the country and its unity once the regime falls".

Assad, battling eight months of protests against his rule, faces street demonstrations, increasing armed opposition, deepening international isolation and an economic crisis triggered by the unrest and aggravated by Western sanctions.

But despite reports of army conscript desertions, he has retained the loyalty of most military officers and government officials and says he will not bow to international pressure to stop a crackdown on foes he describes as "armed terrorists".

The United Nations says 3,500 people have been killed in the crackdown. Authorities blame armed groups and say 1,100 police and soldiers have been killed.

Assad has promised a parliamentary election early next year, followed by a new constitution.

But the council said a transition to democracy after 41 years of Assad family rule "requires toppling the regime with all of its symbols", followed by national reconciliation.

In a transition, the council said an interim government would organise an internationally supervised ballot within a year to elect a "founding assembly" that would draft a new constitution to be put to a referendum. A parliamentary election would be organised within six months.

The council would preserve the army, "which belongs to the people although it was violated by the repressive regime," it said। The programme did not mention the Syrian Free Army, a group of defectors which formed its own independent leadership council last week and has launched attacks on the military.
Source: Reuters

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