The UN Special Envoy to Syria, Geir Pedersen, told members of the Syrian opposition delegation and constitutional committee, in a meeting on Saturday in Riyadh that, “what has been reported about the United Nations limiting the solution to the Syrian conflict to the constitutional committee is untrue.”
He added that he would resume work on the “four baskets” agreed upon after the start of the first session of the complete constitutional committee in Geneva.
The envoy said that the issue of prisoners was still a top priority in his discussions with the Syrian regime and international parties, as was the case with the full items of the confidence-building measures contained in Resolution 2254, from 2015. Pederson also said the negotiating delegation had limited the number of women in the small committee to just two women, while women were supposed to have accounted for 30 percent of the committee.
Pederson listened to an account of the arrest of lawyer Mohammed Ali Sayegh, a member of the constitutional committee, from the Coordinating Committee, living in Damascus, while traveling to Riyadh to participate in the committee’s meetings via Lebanon’s international airport, where he was detained for hours before his release from the External Security branch. He said that he would discuss reports of relatives of members of the Civil Society Committee being put under pressure, prompting at least two of them to withdraw from the Constitutional Committee.
The four baskets unveiled by former UN Special Envoy Stefan de Mistura at the final Geneva 4 conference in March 2017 were: First, matters pertaining to creating a non-sectarian, inclusive government, with the hope of coming to an agreement within six months; second, issues related to a timetable for new draft constitution, with the hope that it would be realized in six months; third, discussion of all matters related to holding free and fair elections within 18 months of the constitution being developed, under the supervision of the United Nations, and including Syrians outside the country; and fourth, counter-terrorism strategy and security governance, and medium-term confidence-building measures.
The matter of counter-terrorism was issued after all the other issues, and then was put before the basket of establishing non-sectarian rule, with the constitutional committee being the top of UN priorities.
This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. The Syrian Observer has not verified the content of this story. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.