Prominent Syrian opposition members announced the formation of a new political bloc which aims to topple President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, cement the revolution’s goals and support the Free Syrian Army (FSA), the founders of the bloc announced on Friday in Istanbul.
The National Bloc for Change which seeks to build a democratic Syria that protects civil, religious, political and economic rights, was born after 80 opposition figures, clerics, lawyers and activists in Syria, signed its formation.
“The organization came into being to support the revolution and to consolidate its principles … and to spur participation in building a future that includes all of the Syrians,” said one of its founders, Ammar Qarbi.
The bloc wants citizenship to be the base on which the foundation of a civil democratic pluralistic nation can be built, he added.
There are currently two main opposition blocs, one is the Syrian National Council (SNC) headed by Burhan Ghalioun, a Professor of Political Sociology at the Sorbonne university in Paris, and the other is the Syrian Coordination Council, led by Haitham Mana’, who went into exile in France in 1978.
A member of the newly formed bloc, Waheed Saqar, who is also a prominent opposition figure, said “Honestly speaking, we do not think that the coordination committee or the National Council [accurately] represent fabric of Syrian society. Our aim is to be one unified body without discrimination or marginalization of any Syrian.
“We support the revolution and the free army,” he said, adding, “we welcome any movement against Assad regime.”
Head of the Arab Committee for the defense of freedom of opinion and expression and also one of the founders of the new bloc, Bahiya Mardini, said that once Assad is ousted, Syria will not be ruled by one faction.
The Egypt-based Mardini said there is a need to form real new parties that work on the ground and can face the upcoming political vacuum that will be left after the ouster of the Baath Party. She said economics and developing the country will be the biggest challenges for the future leadership of Syria.
According to Article 8 of the Syrian constitution, the Baath party is the only political party that can rule the country.
However, last week, Assad announced the holding of a referendum for a new constitution on Feb. 26, promising that in the proposed text, freedom will be “a sacred right” and that any violation of personal freedom will be considered a crime punishable by law.
Meanwhile, Syrian state television said the new constitution would allow the “people to govern the people” under a new multi-party democratic system.
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.
(Translated by Dina al-Shibeeb)