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Syria rejects Arab League plan for Assad to hand over power

Syria has rejected Arab League proposals aimed at ending the country’s bloody 10-month crisis, saying the league's call for President Assad to stand down and for the formation of a national unity government constitutes “flagrant interference” in Syria’s internal affairs.

Arab league 2012 01 23Enlarge
Meeting in Cairo yesterday, the Arab League called on President Bashar al-Assad to hand over power to his deputy and for both sides in the current conflict to end the violence. (KHALED DESOUKI/AFP/Getty Images)

Syria has rejected an Arab League proposal to bring the country’s bloody 10-month crisis to an end, saying its call for the formation of a national unity government within two months constitutes “flagrant interference” in Syria’s internal affairs.

Meeting in Cairo yesterday, the league called on President Bashar al-Assad to hand over power to his deputy and for both sides in the current conflict to end the violence.

Syrian state television quoted an unnamed government official as saying that “Syria rejects the decisions taken which are outside an Arab working plan, and considers them an attack on its national sovereignty and a flagrant interference in internal affairs,” Al-Jazeera reported.

The official also said that the league’s plan was part of a conspiracy against Syria, and that its proposals would not prevent the country from “advancing its political reforms and bringing security and stability to its people,” according to the BBC.

Around 5,400 people have died in a crackdown on anti-government protests since they began last March, according to the UN.

Assad claims that the uprising is being led by terrorists and armed gangs intent on destabilizing Syria as part of a foreign conspiracy, the Associated Press reports. The president says that about 2,000 members of the security forces have been killed.

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Under the Arab League plan unveiled yesterday, a newly-formed unity government would prepare for parliamentary and presidential elections to take place under Arab and international supervision, while Assad would fully empower his vice president to work with the proposed government so that it could function and carry out its duties during a transitional period.

Yesterday Saudi Arabia – a key funder of the Arab League’s projects – announced that it was pulling out of the league’s 165-strong observer mission in Syria over Assad’s broken promises on peace initiatives, throwing the mission’s long-term future into doubt, the BBC reported.

Ten of thousands protested today in Douma, a Damascus suburb, to mourn the deaths of 11 residents killed in the conflict, according to Reuters

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/middle-east/120123/syria-rejects-arab-league-plan-assad-go-and-national-unity-government