Assad presents peace plan; refuses to resign

Los Angeles Times


Syrian President Bashar Assad Sunday presented a plan for ending the civil war, but called his opponents “terrorists” and made it clear that he had no intention to leave office, presenting himself as his people’s protector.

His dismissive attitude toward critics, and his dangling of limited concessions, offered little hope for a breakthrough to end the 21-month-old war.

Assad cast himself as a leader saddened by his country’s strife and ready to find a way to end the conflict, but only on his terms. In his roughly hourlong speech at the national opera house in Damascus, Assad sketched out a plan for peace.

In phase one, Assad called for a freeze to the fighting and an end to foreign aid to anti-government forces. If those conditions were met, Assad said he would order his forces to halt military operations and convene a national dialogue conference. Then, under a transitional government, the draft of a new constitution would be put to a national referendum. In a final phase, a new government would be formed and prisoners released.

Assad offered little detail but presented himself as the one who would guide Syria back to stability.

Assad’s speech came after weeks of shuttle diplomacy by Lakhdar Brahimi, the special envoy from the United Nations and Arab League, who has been laboring to negotiate a peaceful end to Syria’s internal war.

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