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.


Emirates opens bookings for a number of Arab destinations as of July

Updated 21 min 21 sec ago

Emirates opens bookings for a number of Arab destinations as of July

  • Coronavirus travel regulations remain and a number of countries have not yet revealed when they would reopen
  • The airline implemented precautionary measures from May 21

DUBAI: Emirates has opened online bookings for 12 Arab countries for flights starting on July 1.
The destinations include Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman, Iraq, Egypt, Algeria and Tunisia, but bookings are still subject to change, local media said.
“Currently some of our flights are available for booking starting  July 1; however, the situation still  remains dynamic and these flight services could be subject to change, We aim to provide our customers with as much notice as possible should there be any changes,” an Emirates spokesperson told weekly magazine Arabian Business.
However, coronavirus travel regulations remain and a number of countries have not yet revealed when they would reopen.
The airline implemented precautionary measures from May 21 as regular scheduled flights to some destinations resumed.
These measures introduced include complimentary hygiene kits for all passengers, staggered boarding – carried out on a row-by-row basis – with all flights over one-and-a-half hours having a cabin service assistant, who will ensure the toilets are cleaned every 45 minutes.
Other measures include a series of precautions for transit passengers in Dubai, ensuring strict social distancing and requiring passengers and crew to wear masks and gloves at all times.