Last updated: 3 February, 2012

Millions urged to mark massacre in Syria’s Hama

Members of the UN Security Council will meet Saturday morning for a vote on a resolution condemning the violent repression in Syria, a diplomat said.

“It is the same text that’s going to a vote,” a diplomat said Friday, referring to the draft resolution sent to the council’s 15 members the previous day.

That draft states the council “fully supports” an Arab League plan to facilitate a democratic transition, but leaves out explicit references to calls for President Bashar al-Assad to step down and does not mention an arms embargo or sanctions.

The Security Council has yet to adopt a resolution on Syria despite 10 months of violence that has left more than 6,000 people dead, rights groups estimate. An earlier draft was blocked in October by China and Russia.

Earlier Friday, Britain’s UN ambassador Mark Lyall Grant said “everyone will seek instructions from their capitals and we hope to be able to vote as soon as possible.”

The new draft backs the January 22 Arab League request that Assad transfer power to a deputy and a government of national unity within two months but does not call on him to step down, according to a copy obtained by AFP.

Instead, it calls for a “Syrian-led political transition to a democratic, plural political system… including through commencing a serious political dialogue between the Syrian government and the whole spectrum of the Syrian opposition under the League of Arab States’ auspices, in accordance with the timetable set out by the League of Arab States.”

The draft also “condemns all violence from whatever source and… requires that all parties in Syria, including armed groups (opposition), immediately cease all violence or reprisal.”

The latest attempt at consensus emerged after hours of talks stalled in the Security Council, with Moscow leading the opposition to a tougher draft resolution authored by Western powers and the Arab League.

Diplomats said the new draft took into account concerns by Moscow, a staunch Damascus ally.

But Russia has rejected the latest text, saying it could not support the draft in its current form.

“Some of our concerns and the concerns of those who think the same as us have been taken into consideration but all the same this is not enough for us to be able to support it in this form,” Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov said.