Syrian opposition signs political agreement on ‘transitional period’

Pact calls for protection of civilians in Syria

NICOSIA - The Syrian National Council (SNC) opposition group has signed a political agreement with another faction of dissidents laying the ground rules for a "transitional period" should the regime be toppled, a statement said.
The SNC, a major umbrella of factions opposed to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, signed the deal with the National Coordination Body for Democratic Change in Syria, NCB chief Hassan Abdel Azim said on Saturday.
According to the statement received in Nicosia, the NCB and the SNC signed an agreement "which sets out the political and democratic rules for the transitional period," should Assad be ousted by a pro-democracy uprising that erupted in March.
The accord also "determines the important parameters for Syria's future which aspire to ensure that the homeland and every citizen's rights are treated with dignity, and for the foundation of a civil democratic state," according to an English-language text from the NCB.
The deal was signed late Friday in Cairo by SNC chief Burhan Ghalioun and the NCB's Haytham Manna and "will be deposited as an official document with the Arab League" on January 1, said the statement.
Speaking from Damascus, NCB chief Abdel Azim said the agreement underscores the need for the opposition to close ranks in a bid to fend off any foreign intervention in the country.
"Opposition factions inside and outside Syria must unite their efforts," he said.
"A common political vision is needed to ensure a total change in Syria and achieve the goals of the peaceful revolution to avoid the dangers of foreign military intervention," he added.
The SNC is a coalition of 230 members, including the banned Muslim Brotherhood and liberal figures who are determined to end Assad's 11-year autocratic rule. Only 100 of its members live in Syria.
The NCB is an umbrella group of Arab nationalist figures, socialists, independents, Marxists and also comprises members of Syria's minority Kurdish community. The coalition is staunchly opposed to any international military intervention.
The agreement, posted on the Internet, calls for the protection of civilians in Syria, where a government crackdown on dissent has left more than 5,000 people dead since March according to UN estimates.
It also opposes foreign military intervention and says "the transition period starts with the fall of the regime and all its symbols."
The pact voices support for the so-called dissident Free Syrian Army that has been battling regular army troops.