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Syria's Assad to set up constitution committee 'within two days'

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Syrian President Bashar al-Assad will establish a special committee within the next two days to draw up a new constitution, Syrian newspaper al-Watan said on Tuesday, quoting Muhammed Buheytan, deputy head of the Syrian ruling Ba'th party.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad will establish a special committee within the next two days to draw up a new constitution, Syrian newspaper al-Watan said on Tuesday, quoting Muhammed Buheytan, deputy head of the Syrian ruling Ba'th party.

The draft constitution is to be drawn up by the end of the year, the report said. It should be passed by a two-thirds majority in Parliament and approved in a national referendum.

Syria's current constitution states that the Ba'th party is the "leading power" in the country. The Syrian opposition, who has criticized Assad for his reluctance to implement the promised reforms, has demanded that the new law guarantees a democratic multi-party political system in Syria.

Western powers have condemned the Syrian authorities' crackdown on the opposition, which has claimed up to 3,000 lives since anti-government protests broke out in the country in mid-March. The authorities say they have been fighting "terrorist gangs" orchestrated from abroad.

On October 4, Russia and China, both UN Security Council permanent members, vetoed a Western-backed draft resolution urging Assad to stop violence against protesters or face "targeted measures." Moscow said it does not want the "Libyan scenario" to be repeated in Syria, and that it would oppose any attempts to unseat "undesirable regimes" under the guise of a UN mandate.

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