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Syrian opposition partially boycotts referendum on new Constitution

February 26, 2012, 17:27 UTC+3

Analysts in Damascus do not doubt the positive outcome of the referendum, opening the way for “building a revitalized Syria”

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BEIRUT, February 26 (Itar-Tass) — The Syrian opposition parties differed in the opinion on participation in the ongoing referendum on the draft of a new Constitution.

Official spokesman of the National Coordination Body for Democratic Change in Syria (boycotting the referendum) Abdelaziz Khayer admitted that the Fundamental Law now misses the words on the monopoly of the Baath Party in the social and political life of the country.

However, according to the representative, the president “concentrates in his hands all power”, which points to “unwillingness of the ruling regime to meet halfway popular demands”.

“Cosmetic amendments do not remove problems, over which the crisis started,” Khayer said. Besides, he continued, the referendum is conducted under conditions when thousands of arrested protesters continue to remain in jails, while the authorities quash street protest actions.

“The draft of a Constitution had to pass the procedure of broad discussion, and in actual fact, it does not change anything in its present form,” he emphasized.

The Popular Will Party, heading the Popular Front for freedom and changes, called the referendum “the starting point on pulling out of the protracted crisis”. A new Constitution “creates a suitable political atmosphere for making overdue social and economic changes”, notes a statement by the Popular Will Party.

It points out that opposition forces will strive for making amendments to several articles of the Fundamental Law, including clearer delimitation of powers between arms of government.

“Syria is in danger in the face of the plot of Arab reaction, imperialism and Zionism, staking on continuing the bloodshed. The best reply to the above will be participation in the referendum, paving the way for a universal settlement of the crisis, based on consolidating of national unity and establishing political pluralism,” stresses the statement.

The Christian public and supporters of a secular setup of the state expressed remarks concerning the definition of Islam in a Constitution as the religion of the Syrian president, and the Shariah (Islamic law) as the source of legislation. In the opinion of the Christian public, these words lend the document “unnecessary confessional hue”.

The SANA news agency reports that the patriarch of the Antioch Orthodox Church called on Syrian Christians for active participation in the voting, despite remarks on the draft of a Constitution.

Analysts in Damascus do not doubt the positive outcome of the referendum, opening the way for “building a revitalized Syria”.

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