New Syria constitution limits presidency to 2 mandates

The committee decided to limit presidential terms to two seven-year mandates.

Damascus: The committee tasked with drafting
Syria`s new constitution has decided to limit presidential
terms to a maximum of two seven-year mandates, Al-Watan
newspaper said on Tuesday.

The draft constitution will be submitted to President
Bashar al-Assad in "the coming days" before being put to a
referendum, said the newspaper, which is close to the

Assad on January 10 said the referendum would be held
early March.

The committee "decided to limit presidential terms to two
seven-year mandates," said the newspaper citing an informed

The new text also provides for the abolition of the
presidential referendum which has been in force since 1971,
replacing it with pluralistic elections.

"If one of the candidates fails to secure 51 per cent of
the vote, a second round is expected between the two
candidates" who secure the largest number of votes in such an
election, the newspaper said.

Each candidate must obtain the support of "15 percent of
members of parliament," which has 250 seats, to qualify to run
in the elections.

Assad, who is facing an unprecedented uprising against
his regime, appointed on October 15 a committee tasked with
drafting a new constitution.

Under the current constitution, which dates to 1971, the
president can be re-elected for an unlimited number of
mandates. The late president Hafez al-Assad, Bashar`s father,
ruled for five consecutive terms.

Assad succeeded his father in 2000.
The newspaper did not specify whether the new
constitution would have a retroactive effect. President Assad
is due to complete his second seven-year mandate in 2014.

The committee also proposes to scrap article 8 of the
constitution, which enshrines the ruling Baath party as the
"leader of state and society," replacing it with clauses on
"political pluralism" and "free elections."

The removal of this controversial article has been one of
the central demands of the opposition since protests erupted
in March.


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