LONDON, Sept. 7 (UPI) — The High Negotiation Committee, Syria’s main opposition bloc, on Wednesday will present a peace plan in which embattled President Bashar al-Assad would be required to step down during a transitional period starting after six months.
The political settlement blueprint sets up a gradual government transition by initiating a six-month cease-fire for negotiations and full humanitarian access following five years of civil war. After those six months, a transitional administration made up of government and opposition elements would take over and run the country for 18 months before elections are held.
During those 18 transitional months, Assad would be required to cede power. The HNC said it would reject any peace plan created by the United States and Russia if it deviates significantly from its own.
Elections would be overseen by the United Nations. Civil and military powers would be given to the elected government. The plan would also allow the return of millions of Syrian refugees and internally displaced people. Prisoners held in government jails would be freed.
“According to our vision, the aim of the transitional phase is to preserve the sovereignty and independence of the state — the starting point is getting rid of Assad and his men,” HNC head Riyad Hijab told a press conference in London, adding that the opposition’s future also “safeguards” the rights of Kurdish people. “All components of the Syrian people must participate in making the future of Syria.”
The peace plan, announced after the HNC met with British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and members of the Friends of Syria diplomatic group, will be presented in London.
“It calls for the establishment of a transitional governing body to protect the country’s unity, safeguarding the state and its institutions, promoting the principles of democracy, freedom, equality and citizenship,” the HNC said in a statement.
Syria has been blighted by a complex civil war in which the Islamic State, the Syrian government and multiple Syrian rebel groups fight for control of territory. The proposed peace agreement would not include the Islamic State.