Last updated: 22 January, 2014

Syria opposition calls on Assad to hand over power

The Syrian opposition leader Wednesday called on President Bashar al-Assad to hand over power to a transitional government, as UN-led peace talks opened in Switzerland.

“I call on (the regime delegation) to immediately sign the Geneva I communique (setting out) the total transfer of powers from Assad, including for the army and security, to a transition government,” Ahmad Jarba, president of the Syrian National Coalition, told the delegations gathered in the city of Montreux.

“We completely agree with the decisions of Geneva I which you have all agreed upon,” he said, referring to a pact sealed in June 2012, which assented to the establishment of a mutually agreed transitional government.

The Syrian regime of President Bashar al-Assad has contested that the peace talks, which will continue later in the week in Geneva, would not set the scene for a handover of power.

But Jarba insisted the Geneva I deal was “the preamble to Bashar al-Assad’s resignation and his trial alongside all the criminals of his regime”.

He revealed the Syrian opposition was going to present a detailed timetable, complete with deadlines, to the next phase of the negotiations due to open in Geneva later in the week.

“If Assad remains in power in any way, that would mean that the Geneva II process is diverting from its path,” Jarba argued.

“We seek reassurances that we have a Syrian partner in this room, and that this partner can transform itself from a delegation in Assad’s name to a delegation in the name of Syria.”