Syria's Assad 'looking for a face-saving exit'

Syria's Assad 'looking for a face-saving exit'
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Syrian opposition groups have rejected President al-Assad’s proposed referendum later this month on a new constitution.

The draft allows for multiple parties and limits the presidency to two terms. It’s not clear whether that means Assad, who’s ruled since 2000, would step down in 2014.

Abdel Bari Atwan, the editor of the London-based pan-Arab paper Al-Quds Al-Arabi doesn’t believe Assad will last and is seeking a way out.

“He is looking for a face-saving formula. Who is going to give it to him? Until now we haven’t seen anything. In Yemen, Ali Abdullah Saleh, the president, wanted to stay and last until the end of his presidential term. Gulf States issued an initiative in order to present him with a face-saving Formula. And in the end he quit, he left.

“So we need a some sort of mediation and a solution, a political solution. This is the only exit from this crisis. Otherwise Syria could be divided and it could indulge in a sectarian civil war which could spread in the whole of the region.”

Others have questioned how a referendum could take place soon given the state of the country.

The London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says at least 36 people were killed on Wednesday.

One opposition figure in exile said Assad had “lost his legitimacy and we’re not interested in his constitutions, old or new.”