ASIA NEWS REPORT:
Approved by 89.4 per cent of voters, the new basic
charter opens the country to a multiparty system. However, it allows Assad to
remain president until 2028. Wounded photojournalist Paul Conroy and reporter
Edith Bouvier have left Homs. In the city, the bodies of 68 people were found,
showing gunshot and knife wounds.
Beirut (AsiaNews) - Syria's new constitution came into effect after President
Bashar al-Assad on Tuesday issued decree No. 94 on the Constitution of the
Syrian Arab Republic. The Interior Ministry announced that the new fundamental
charter was approved by 89.4 per cent of those who voted; however, only 57.4 per
cent of eligible voters cast their ballot.
Under the new constitution, the Baa'th party's monopoly is abolished allowing
more parties to form. New elections are set to take place in three months time.
The presidency is now limited to two terms, but will come into force only at the
end of Assad's current seven-year term (in 2014) and is not retroactive. This
means that Assad (who came to power in 2000) could rule until 2028.
As the government celebrates this milestone, the opposition has released more
reports about clashes and bombing by the Syrian air force for a total of 128
dead. In Homs, 68 people were found dead in a "massacre" with men, women and
children showing signs of gunfire but also knife wounds.
According to some reports from the "martyr" city, British photojournalist
Paul Conroye and French reporter Edith Bouvier, who were wounded a few days ago,
were evacuated to Lebanon.
The International Committee of the Red Cross also announced that its workers
have reached Hama with help for 12,000 people. It had been prevented from doing
so since 17 January.
At the international level, European nations have indicated their intention
to put more pressures on Damascus through tougher sanctions. Qatari Prime
Minister Hamad bin Jassem al-Thani said his government is in favour of providing
weapons to the rebels. "We should do whatever necessary to help them, including
giving them weapons to defend themselves," he said during an official visit to
By contrast, Russia and China continue to oppose any international action
In a newspaper article, the Russian president has accused the West of
"lacking the patience to work out an adjusted and balanced" solution, calling on
the opposition to do what is asked of the Syrian armed forces.
In Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei slammed the United
States, urging the Americans to look at the situation in Iraq, ten years after
their intervention. (PD)