Thursday, June 24, 2004

National Front wants Real Power Sharing

Bashar is intent on expanding political participation away from the Ba'th. Although he is being very cautious, it is clear that he is clipping Ba'th Party wings. (See previous post) Now he seems to be opening the field toward the loyal opposition, which is heavily secular and highly educated. This is the import of the new moves of the National Progressive Front to update their charter and seek more cabinet posts. Al-Ahram reports:

Radical Changes are coming to the charter of the National Progressive Front (NPF), a coalition of nine opposition parties that works in partnership with the Baath Party. Youssef Al-Faysal, secretary-general of the Syrian Communist Party (SCP) said that there were many reasons for changing the 32 year-old charter, such as "Syria's changing political and economic agendas." The reforms aim to carve a larger niche for the NPF in the political decision-making process and permit it to assume a role in running the country, Al- Faysal said. "There is a general perception that the NPF's role is only marginal in Syrian politics; this perception should change."

The structure of the political system in Syria is based on a partnership between the Baath Party and the NPF. The cabinet has eight ministers who belong to the coalition. In the People's Assembly, there are 36 NPF deputies. The SCP, for example, has representation in local municipalities and professional syndicates. NPF members see the changes as a move to add strength to the front.

The NPF started in 1971 with five political parties and has expanded to include nine. In the past, the NPF was not allowed to be active within universities or the army. The ban, however, has now been lifted and many NPF parties are engaged in political activism. The changes also touched upon the internal structure of the NPF itself. Al-Faysal said that the Front should hold a national convention in which ministers of economy and foreign affairs submit reports on their assessment of Syria's economic and foreign policy achievements. This, explained Al-Faysal, would make officials accountable to the NPF.

NPF changes, according to one observer, would certainly have an impact within Syrian public space. The nine parties, according to the proposed draft, will have the right to publish newspapers, something prohibited in the past. The most striking change, however, relates to Syria's relationship with Israel. One paragraph in the charter which for the past three decades defined the Front's stand as against any form of relationship with Israel has been replaced with a paragraph putting forward a new policy with regards to Syria-Israel relations -- one that firmly believes in a just and comprehensive peace. "It was necessary to change this in light of the developments in the region and also of Syria's new policy orientation towards Israel," said Al-Faysal.

The document will be discussed during the forthcoming national meeting of the NPF that will be attended by President Bashar Al-Assad himself, a final draft to be agreed upon then.

See: Al-Ahram Weekly, "Change in Syria"

These possitive headlines were dampened by the hunger strike annonced by a prominent Syrian human rights activist imprisoned in April. There is mounting presser on Bashar to release the country's political prissoners.

1 Comments:

At 8/17/2007 01:15:00 AM, Blogger Maldives Islands said...

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