Syria allows political parties

26 July 2011

Bill part of a package of concessions to appease protesters

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his cabinet approved a bill on 25 July that will allow organised political opposition for the first time in nearly 50 years.

Assad’s Baath party banned opposition groups in Syria after the military coup in 1963 that brought it to power.

The draft legislation will be presented to parliament next week. The bill is part of a package of concessions meant to appease protesters.

The cabinet has not abandoned a constitutional clause that makes the Baath party the sole source of political power. As a result, the new bill will allow other parties the right to operate as opposition to, or as part of, a ruling coalition, but only as subservient partners to the Baathists and therefore not able to win power.

As such, the bill will be unacceptable to the opposition, who will only stop protesting if Assad resigns.

The unrest in Syria has been ongoing since mid-March and more than 1,400 civilians have been killed so far.

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