Syria opposition: UN envoy cannot form delegation for peace talks

U.N. Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura, left, speaks to head of Syrian opposition delegation Mohammed Alloush, right, prior to talks on Syrian peace at a hotel hall in Astana, Kazakhstan, in this Jan. 23, 2017 photo. (AP)
Updated 02 February 2017
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Syria opposition: UN envoy cannot form delegation for peace talks

BEIRUT: Syria opposition officials Wednesday criticized UN envoy Staffan de Mistura after he said he could pick the opposition delegation representatives to UN-led talks in Geneva if they failed to do so.
De Mistura on Tuesday said the talks previously scheduled for Feb. 8 had been postponed to Feb. 20 in part to give the opposition more time to present a united delegation.
And he warned that if they had not done so by Feb. 8, he would “select the delegation in order to make sure that it can be as inclusive as possible.”
The opposition rejected the comments as “unacceptable.”
“Selecting the Syrian opposition delegation is not the business... of de Mistura,” wrote Riad Hijab, head of the opposition High Negotiations Committee, on his Twitter account.
Salem Muslet, a spokesman for the opposition umbrella group, said de Mistura’s comments were “unacceptable” and showed a “disregard for the ability of the representatives of the Syrian people.”
Muslet also asked whether de Mistura would “intervene in the formation of (President Bashar)Assad’s delegation.”


UN hopes for meeting on Syria constitution by late December

US Deputy United Nations Ambassador Jonathan Cohen, left, address the UN Security Council after a report from UN chief mediator for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, shown center in a live video broadcast, on Monday, Nov. 19, 2018 at UN headquarters. (AP)
Updated 21 November 2018
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UN hopes for meeting on Syria constitution by late December

  • Staffan de Mistura said the UN welcomes “constructive and moderate suggestions” to change the list of the disputed 50 members

NEW YORK: The UN is still aiming to send invitations to 150 Syrians by mid-December to participate in a committee that would draft a new constitution for Syria, which is key to holding elections and ending the country’s civil war, a UN envoy said on Monday.
Staffan de Mistura, the UN special envoy for Syria, told the Security Council that the UN also aims to hold the committee’s first meeting before Dec. 31.
But de Mistura said the Syrian regime is objecting to 50 members of the committee representing civil society, experts, independents, tribal leaders and women that he was authorized to put together at a Russian-hosted Syrian peace conference in Sochi on Jan. 30.
Under the Sochi agreement, the committee is to comprise 150 members. There is already agreement on the 50-member delegation from the regime and the 50-member delegation from the opposition.
But de Mistura warned that if there is no agreement on the remaining members, the UN may have to conclude that it is not possible to form a “credible and inclusive” constitutional committee at this stage.
He said the UN welcomes “constructive and moderate suggestions” to change the list of the disputed 50 members. But de Mistura said they must “maintain the same spirit of credibility, balance and international legitimacy,” and he stressed that the list cannot be filled with political leaders who are already represented.
The UN envoy said that at his last briefing to the Security Council in December “it will be my duty to explain where we are on the constitutional committee, and leave a clean and clear ground to my successor regarding it.”
De Mistura was supposed to step down at the end of December but UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said Monday he will be staying on “for a bit longer” to make sure there is no gap “at an extremely critical time in the Syria talks.”