UN chief announces formation of Syrian constitutional committee

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres announced Monday the creation of a committee on Syria that will include government and opposition representatives to draft a post-war constitution. (AFP)
Updated 24 September 2019

UN chief announces formation of Syrian constitutional committee

  • The committee is to include 150 members
  • The UN-backed push to form a constitutional committee had been bogged down by disagreements

NEW YORK: United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres announced Monday the creation of a committee on Syria that will include government and opposition representatives to draft a post-war constitution.
"I firmly believe that the launching of a Syrian-organized and Syrian-led Constitutional Committee can be the beginning of a political path towards a solution" to the years-long war, Guterres told reporters.
Guterres said his envoy to Syria, Geir Pedersen, would bring the committee together in the coming weeks.
The committee is to include 150 members -- a third picked by Assad's government, another by the opposition, and the remaining third by the UN.
Monday's announcement came after Guterres said last week that an agreement had been reached concerning the "the composition of the committee".
The UN-backed push to form a constitutional committee had been bogged down by disagreements with President Bashar Assad's government over the makeup of body.
It is also unclear what the committee might achieve. Damascus hoped to amend the current constitution, while the opposition wants to write a new one from scratch.
Arguments over who would take on which roles on the committee also delayed the process.
Numerous rounds of UN-led peace talks have failed to end a war that has killed more than 370,000 people and displaced millions since erupting in 2011 with the repression of anti-government protests.
In recent years, a parallel negotiations track led by regime ally Russia and rebel backer Turkey has taken precedence.
With key military backing from Russia, Assad's forces have retaken large parts of Syria from rebels and jihadists since 2015, and now control around 60 percent of the country.


Palestinian in car ramming shot by Israel forces: police

Updated 42 min 27 sec ago

Palestinian in car ramming shot by Israel forces: police

  • Israeli officials said he was holding a knife
  • No Israeli forces were wounded in the incident

JERUSALEM: A Palestinian was shot by Israeli security forces after ramming his car into a vehicle for undercover policemen in the occupied West Bank, police said Thursday.
Police were carrying out arrests overnight in the Al-Amari refugee camp near the West Bank city of Ramallah when the Palestinian “attempted to run over the officers” and hit the armored police car, a statement said.
The officers saw the driver holding a knife and shot him, with police saying he was a Palestinian from Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem, without providing further details.
No Israeli forces were wounded in the incident.
A spokesman for the Shaare Zedek hospital in Jerusalem said the suspect was in serious condition.
Israeli forces carry out frequent raids and arrests in the occupied West Bank, which often lead to clashes.
In May 2018, an Israeli special forces soldier was killed during an arrest operation in Al-Amari after being hit on the head by a stone thrown from a rooftop.