New Syria charter ends near 50-year Baath rule
DAMASCUS - Agence France-Presse
AP PhotoA new Syrian constitution to be voted on later this month effectively puts an end to nearly five decades of single Baath Party rule, according to the text.
The proposed constitution, which will be put to a vote on February 26, does away with Article 8 of the old charter which declared the Baath Party, in power since 1963, as the "leader of the state and society."
Syria's President Bashar al-Assad has decreed to hold a referendum for a new constitution on February 26, the official SANA state news agency reported on today.
"President Bashar al-Assad issued today a decree setting Sunday, February 26, as the date for the referendum on the draft constitution," SANA reported.
Syrian state television said the new constitution would allow the "people to govern the people" under a new multi-party democratic system.
It said that under the proposed text, freedom is "a sacred right" and that any violation of personal freedom is considered a crime punishable by law.
On Sunday, a commission tasked with drawing up a new constitution submitted a draft charter to Assad, SANA reported, adding he would review it and send it to the People's Assembly before a vote.
In January, Assad said a new constitution was being drawn up by a committee set up in October to replace the current one, which enshrines his Baath party's dominant role.
At the time, he said it could be put to a popular vote as early as March, although that date for the ballot has now been brought forward.
Syria's government lifted a state of emergency in April last year and in July adopted a law allowing a multi-party political system.