Syria presidential vote thrust into doubt
GENEVA — Syrian President Bashar Assad's adviser on Wednesday rejected the opposition's call for a transitional governing body and suggested for the first time that a presidential election scheduled to be held later this year may not take place amid the ongoing violence.
The comments by Bouthaina Shaaban were made as U.N. mediator Lakhdar Brahimi announced that the first phase of the Syria peace talks in Geneva will end on Friday, as scheduled, and that the gap between the government and the opposition remains “quite large.”
“To be blunt, I do not expect that we're going achieve anything substantial” by Friday, he said. “I'm very happy that we are still talking and that the ice is breaking slowly.”
Brahimi said both sides will decide when the second phase of the talks will take place — most likely after a one-week break.
Earlier Wednesday, both sides managed to discuss the thorniest issue: the opposition's demand for a transitional government in Syria.
But Shaaban said it would be difficult to hold a presidential election in Syria, given the fighting, and she rejected a transitional governing body.
“There's nothing in the world called transitional government. We don't mind a large government, a national unity government, but I think they invent the wrong term for our people and then they circulate it in the media,” she told AP.
The idea of a national unity government has been rejected by the opposition, which insists Assad must step down in favor of a transitional government with full executive powers.
Louay Safi, a spokesman for the opposition's negotiating team, said the issue of a transitional government was put on the table at the talks for the first time. But he added the government delegation stuck to its demand that putting an end to terrorists was still its No. 1 priority.
“Today we had a positive step forward, because for the first time, now we are talking about the transitional governing body, the body whose responsibility is to end dictatorship and move toward democracy and end the fighting and misery in Syria,” he said.
The government seems “more ready to discuss that issue, but still they're trying to push it to the back of the discussion,” Safi said.
Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Thousands in Spain protest ban on demonstrations, burning national flag
- Suicide attacks kill dozens in Iraq
- China to investigate ex-leader’s top aide
- Islamic State captures downed Jordanian pilot
- Kurds bring fight to Islamic State in contested Iraqi town
- Russia enters push for peace in Syria talks
- Russia acts to stanch ruble’s plummet
- How are migrants sneaking into the EU? Through Hungary
- Cuban President Castro says nation won’t abandon socialist ideals
- Kurds apply pressure to Islamic State
- Arrests made in Pakistan school massacre