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Middle East, World

Syria to open up for political parties

Billboard with portrait of Assad and the text ...

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The Syrian government has embraced a draft law that permits the creation of political parties apart from the ruling Baath party, state media say.

A multiparty political system is a significant demand of anti-government activists who have taken to the streets across Syria since March to demand change in the country’s political system.

The Baath party has governed Syria for almost half a century. The law appears to ban parties created on the basis of religion, or tribal or regional affiliation.The Baath party banned opposition groups in Syria after the military coup in 1963 that brought it to power. Under the constitution, the Baath “leads society and state”.

“The government adopted a draft law regarding political parties in Syria as part of a programme of reform aimed at enriching the political life, creating a new dynamic and allowing for a change in political power,” the official news agency Sana said.

Political parties have to follow the “democratic principles”, the state agency said.

Syria has seen four months of protest against the ruling President Bashar al-Assad. Human rights groups say that about 1,400 civilians and 350 security forces personnel have died in the four months of protest. On Friday, tens of thousands of Syrians again took to the streets in protest across the country, in defiance of a widespread crackdown.

The government blames the unrest on “armed criminal gangs” backed by a foreign conspiracy.

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