Assad Orders Referendum on New Constitution

It would allow more parties, and include term limit
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 15, 2012 7:43 AM CST
Assad Orders Referendum on New Constitution
Syrians rally in support of President Bashar al-Assad in central Damascus on February 15, 2012.   (Getty Images/AFP)

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has ordered that a referendum be held later this month on a new constitution that would allow for additional political parties and limit the president to two 14-year terms, Syria's state-run TV station announced today. But opposition leaders immediately dismissed the gesture as an attempt to stall for time, saying they won't accept anything less than Assad's resignation, and, as the AP points out, it would be hard to hold a referendum amid the violence wreaking havoc on the country.

That violence continued today, with shells continuing to rain down on Homs. One attack hit a key oil pipeline that runs through the rebel-held Baba Amr neighborhood there—an attack that state-run TV blamed on "armed terrorists." Government troops also launched an attack on Hama, firing on residential neighborhoods from armored vehicles, the Guardian reports. Amidst that bloody backdrop, France says it is "renegotiating" a UN resolution with Russia, which has stood by Assad's regime. (Read more Bashar al-Assad stories.)

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