France says Assad cannot be part of political transition in Syria
As the United Nations’ peace envoy to Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, called for the formation of an interim government, France says Syrian President Bashar al-Assad cannot be part of this transition.
Speaking on the final day of a five-day visit to Damascus, Brahimi says there needs to be “real change” in Syria as the conflict there approaches its 22nd month.
“We need to form a government with all powers…which assumes power during a period of transition. That transition period will end with elections,” he says, adding the elections could be parliamentary or presidential.
He made no mention of the fate of Assad.
France, the first Western government to recognise the opposition Syrian National Coalition [SNC] as the sole legitimate representative of the Syrian people, says the Syrian President has no role to play.
“Bashar al-Assad, who continues to pursue a ferocious repression of his people and is responsible for the 45,000 victims of this conflict, cannot be part of the political transition,” says Vincent Floreani, the deputy spokesman of the French ministry of Foreign Affairs.
This sentiment was echoed by the SNC.
"We will accept any political solution that does not include the Assad family nor those who harmed the Syrian people," National Coalition spokesman Walid al-Bunni told a press conference in Istanbul.
"Our first condition for them is to leave the country.”
Meanwhile, Russia hosted a Syrian delegation headed by Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Muqdad ahead of talks with Brahimi on Saturday.
Moscow denied reports of a new initiative with Washington that would see Assad stay in power until 2014 while preventing him from renewing his mandate.
Brahimi also denied such a plan had been devised.
“I wish such a plan to solve the Syrian crisis existed,” he says.