What will referendum in Syria change?
Rufiz Hafizoglu, Arabic News Service Head
After nearly a year of bloody clashes in Syria official Damascus announced referendum on a new Constitution scheduled for February 26.
It is said that at the upcoming referendum in Syria art. 8 of the Constitution, which was adopted by Parliament on January 31, 1973 will be altered, but in fact, introduction of amendments and supplements to the Constitution's other articles is also envisaged.
According to Article 8 of the Constitution of Syria, Arab Socialist Renaissance Party (Ba'ath) is the ruling party.
The following supplements will be submitted to a referendum to change Article 8:
1. Other political parties may participate in political life and be represented in power by democratic means.
2. Parties may conduct legitimate election campaigns; all political parties must respect the values and democratic laws of the country.
3. The provisions and procedures for the formation of political parties are regulated by law.
4. It is inadmissible to use in parties' political activities religious and racial discrimination, as well as religious or sectarian factor in politics.
5. It is inadmissible to abuse post, to use state budget for personal purposes and in election campaigns.
In addition, it is proposed to introduce to Article 2 of the Constitution an additional paragraph saying "Power belongs to the people, and any person or group may never have an advantage over the power of the people".
Along with this change, introduction of amendments and supplements to other articles and paragraphs of the Constitution is envisaged.
But the most important of these changes is related to age of the President. According to the proposed change, the age limit of presidential candidate has been raised and set at the age of 40 years. According to the current Constitution, the age of presidential candidate is 34 years.
After the decision of official Damascus to hold a referendum on the new constitution the opposition forces of Syria said that they would not participate in the referendum and do not recognize its results, and demanded to declare Bashar al-Assad killer, and his early retirement from the post of president.
Despite the fact that many political analysts consider holding of a referendum acceptable to restore the relative stability in a country still ongoing clashes give grounds to say that the referendum will have no effect.
But on the other hand, it is likely that the referendum won't take place. At least, because of the fact that no member of the opposition participated in the preparation of the new Constitution.