Assad ready for new constitution

June 21, 2011 - 0:0

DAMASCUS – Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said on Monday that dialogue could lead to a new constitution and even the end of his Baath party’s monopoly on power but insisted that there would be no reform in Syria during the current chaotic situation.

In a 70-minute televised speech, Assad acknowledged that the demands for reform were legitimate, but he reiterated allegations that “saboteurs” were exploiting the situation.
According to Sana, President Assad added, “Credibility has formed the basis of the relation between the people and me, the credibility which has been built on deeds and not words, on substance and not on form.”
He went on to say that Syria has witnessed 'difficult days' during which a big price from our security, stability and growth was paid because of killing operations, and terrifying the citizens, destroying public and private properties, which took place during popular protests in which scores of citizens, security forces, policemen and armed forces were martyred or wounded
He added, “This is a big loss for their families, Syria, and a heavy loss for me personally.”
Assad prayed to God to grant all martyrs mercy and forgiveness, offering their families and relatives heartfelt condolences.
“Our only option is looking towards the future… we possess this option when we decide to make the future rather than have events make it… when we control it rather than it controls us… we lead rather than it leads us,” Assad said.
Assad said dialogue was under way that could lead to a new constitution and raised the possibility of elections and an end to the ruling Baath party's dominance, a key opposition demand, while warning the economy was on the verge of collapse, AFP reported.
“We can say that national dialogue is the slogan of the next stage,” Assad said. “The national dialogue could lead to amendments of the constitution or to a new constitution.”
Reform was “a total commitment in the interest of the nation,” he added.
Assad offered his condolences to the families of “martyrs” from the unrest rocking the country since mid-March, but said there could be “no development without stability, no reform in the face of sabotage and chaos.”
“We make a distinction between those (with legitimate grievances) and the saboteurs who represent a small group which has tried to exploit the goodwill of the Syrian people for its own ends,” said Assad.
His third speech to the nation since the protests broke out, punctuated by applause from the audience, was buoyed by a Russian pledge to block Western moves against him at the United Nations.