Syrian government adopts law to establish political parties
The Syrian government adopted Sunday a law it says would allow the establishment of new political parties in addition to the ruling Baath party, which for years has controlled the political life in the country, dpa reported.
The move came as part of the political reform programme that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has promised to implement in the country amid ongoing protests against his regime, the Syrian state-run news agency SANA reported.
Pro-democracy protests have been ongoing since mid-March, with demonstrators calling for reforms and freedom in the country. They have been largely met by a harsh government crackdown, in which human rights groups say more than 1,480 civilians have been killed. More than 15,000 have been arrested.
The new law, which was adopted during a cabinet session, outlines the basic goals and principles regulating parties, establishes the conditions and procedures for establishing and licensing them, and sets out rules regarding parties' resources, funding, rights and duties, SANA reported.
The announcement came late at night, and it was unclear how the Syrian opposition would react to the move.
SANA added that the new parties should be committed to the constitution and the principles of democracy as well as persevering the unity of the homeland.
"The law prohibits a party to be based on religious, tribal, regional, denominational, or profession-related basis or on the basis of discrimination due to ethnicity, gender or race," SANA said.
It added that the "parties must not use violence of any kind, threaten with it, or instigate it."
"A party cannot be a branch of a non-Syrian party or political organization, not can it be affiliated to one," SANA said.
For 48 years, Syria has been ruled by the Baath Party, which calls for "Unity, Freedom and Socialism." The Baathists, who are from the minority Alwaite community, make up approximately 1.2 million, of Syria's 22 million people.
The Baath party controls strategic posts like the presidency, the premiership, and speaker of Parliament.
On April 21, Assad lifted the country's 48-year-old state of emergency, which was also a major demand of Syrian opposition members.