France slams Syria multi-party proposal as 'provocation'

4th August 2011, Comments 0 comments

France on Thursday slammed as "provocation" a decree by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad allowing opposition parties, and said instead he should stop his deadly crackdown on democracy protests.

"In a manner that lacks credibility... the Syrian regime recently announced the authorisation of multi-party politics. This is almost a provocation," Foreign Minister Alain Juppe told French radio.

He said that "what we want is an end to the violence against the civilian population which is only defending its rights."

Juppe warned that "if nothing changes in Syria," France may seek further action from the UN Security Council, which on Wednesday condemned the deadly crackdown and said those responsible should be held accountable.

Assad on Thursday issued a decree authorising political parties to be established and to function alongside the Baath party, in power since 1963 with the constitutional status of "the leader of state and society".

Political pluralism has been at the forefront of demands by pro-reform dissidents who since March 15 have been taking to the streets across Syria almost daily to call for greater freedoms.

© 2011 AFP

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