Syrian National Council Unveils Political Program

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The opposition Syrian National Council announced Sunday a political program aimed at bringing down President Bashar Assad followed by a parliamentary election after a year's transition.

In a statement received by Agence France Presse, the SNC said its goal was to "build a democratic, pluralistic, and civil state by ... breaking down the existing regime, including all of its operatives and symbols."

The SNC, the country's largest and most representative opposition group, said another objective was "preserving, protecting, and enhancing the peaceful nature of the popular revolution."

The SNC said that once the regime falls, it would "take responsibility, with the military apparatus, to manage the transitional period and guarantee the security and unity of the country" during the transition.

It would try to forge a "pluralistic... parliamentary republic... based on the principles of equal citizenship with separation of powers... the rule of law, and the protection and guarantee of the rights of minorities."

"Within one year at most, the interim government will organize free elections with Arab and international observers to elect a Constitutional Assembly tasked with drafting a new constitution for the country that is then voted on by the people in a referendum," said the statement.

"Free parliamentary elections shall be held within six months, in accordance with the new constitution."

The SNC, which was formally founded in Istanbul on October 2, is made up of Assad's opponents, including the committees organizing protests on the ground, the Muslim Brotherhood as well as various Kurdish and Assyrian parties.

So far it has only been recognized by Libya, where the National Transitional Council is now in power following a revolt that ousted dictator Moammar Gadhafi.

France said Thursday that the Syrian opposition's umbrella group needs to be better organized before it can win its recognition.

"We have contacts with them, I saw Mr. Burhan Ghaliun in Paris, who's the president. We help them, we have contact and we encourage them to get organized," Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said, referring to the head of the SNC.

The Assad regime is under mounting international pressure to halt its eight-month crackdown on pro-reform turned anti-regime protests, which the United Nations says has killed more than 3,500 people.

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