The Syrian crisis is to be resolved by a transition government consisting of the current authorities and opposition leaders. The proposal was announced by UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan after talks in Geneva.
The unity government should be formed on the basis of “mutual consent”, said Annan. The Syrian-led transition should take place within a fixed period of time and the envoy hopes this may happen till the end of this year.
Annan, announcing the official communiqué of the international meeting in Geneva, called on the Syrian regime and opposition groups to recommit to ceasefire and start implementing his six-point peace plan immediately, without waiting for the other side.
The plan urges the sides to the Syrian conflict to cooperate with UN observers, allow humanitarian aid delivery, release detainees and grant journalists access to the country. The right to peaceful demonstrations must be respected, Annan said.
The envoy stressed several times that it is up to Syrians to determine their political future. Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov also pointed out the new document does not command a political process for Syria; this provision was among major demands Russia and China took to Geneva.
Prior to the conference, Annan had proposed a plan for a unity government in Syria excluding political figures that compromise the country’s stability, effectively calling for the removal of President Bashar al-Assad. Moscow refused to back such a condition and also made sure the plan brokered in Geneva would not require Assad to step down.
But US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton still said the fresh transition plan means President Assad will have to go anyway, as the Syrian leader would hardly pass a “mutual consent” test.
Kofi Annan also remarked that foreign ministers, who took part in the conference in Geneva, will make up a regular working group on the Syrian crisis. A new round of Syria talks may take place in Moscow, suggest diplomatic sources.
During the meeting, British Foreign Secretary William Hague called for the UN Security Council to draft a resolution imposing sanctions against the Arab country. He also maintained that President al-Assad and his close associates could not lead a transition, reports Reuters.
“Without [a UNSC resolution] and the prospect of penalties for non-compliance, there can be little credible pressure on the Syrian regime and other parties to change course,” said Hague.
The US would call a UNSC session over the Syrian crisis, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in the press conference that followed. Sanctions based on UN Charter VII should be used against Syria, if Annan’s new plan is not implemented, she added.
The violent uprisings that started over 16 months ago in Syria have become increasingly more militarized over the last few months. Both the Syrian President and UN envoy Annan have classified the conflict as an all-out war.
The UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon said that the death toll has reached over 10,000, while opposition groups say that the figure is a lot higher.