Damascus Submits Nominees to Rewrite Constitution: UN

The Syrian government has submitted a list of names to the United Nations as candidates for inclusion in a constitutional committee, UN envoy Staffan de Mistura said.

Formation of the committee, which will rewrite the Syrian constitution, was agreed at a Syrian peace conference in the Russian resort city of Sochi in January. It is up to de Mistura to decide whom to pick.

De Mistura’s spokeswoman Reem Ismail said the UN was carefully studying the list of names but declined to comment further.

De Mistura has said he will select about 50 people, including supporters of the government, the opposition and independents, Reuters reported.

The main opposition negotiating group has agreed to cooperate as long as the committee is formed under UN auspices.

Control over the constitutional process has been a key point of conflict between President Bashar Assad’s government, and the international community and the Syrian opposition.

The government at first agreed to the plan, but later rejected it. Its submission of a list of names to the UN follows a meeting earlier this month between Assad and Russia’s President Vladimir Putin.

The UN Security Council, which includes Russia and the United States, has mandated de Mistura to get a deal on a new constitution, new elections and a reform of Syria’s governance.

But nine rounds of talks, most of them in Geneva, have failed to bring the warring sides together to end a seven-year-old conflict that has killed hundreds of thousands of people and driven millions from their homes.

Assad’s government announced in 2012 that voters had overwhelmingly approved a new constitution in a referendum, conducted amid civil war.

Last week, Syria’s Foreign Ministry said it had handed to the Russian and Iranian ambassadors in Damascus a list of the members it had named to constitutional committee.

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