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Assad Must Go, Insists Syrian Opposition

posted 22 Jan 2014, 05:28 by Sam Mbale   [ updated 22 Jan 2014, 05:28 ]

Syrian opposition spokesman calls for international pressure to force a transitional government into power.

MONTREUX, SWITZERLAND (JANUARY 22, 2014) (REUTERS) -  Syria's government and opposition, meeting for the first time at a U.N. peace conference, angrily spelled out their hostility on Wednesday (January 22) as world powers also offered sharply divergent views on forcing out Bashar al-Assad.

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Opposition leader Ahmad Jarba accused the president of Nazi-style war crimes and demanded the Syrian government delegation at the one-day meeting in Switzerland immediately sign up to an international plan for handing over power.

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem insisted Assad would not bow to outside demands and painted a graphic picture of "terrorist" rebel atrocities supported by Arab and Western states who back the opposition and were present in the room.

Following both Mouallem and Jarba's speeches, opposition spokesman Monzer Akbik said the international community should provide pressure to get an agreement that would put a transition government in power inSyria.

Both sides have accused each other of being the problem.

"Assad is the problem. We say 'democracy' they say 'Assad'. We say 'freedom', they say 'Assad'. We say 'dignity', they say 'Assad'. They put they whole nation, we're talking about a nation, they're talking about a man. So Assad is the problem and Assad must go in order to start the transition towards democracy,'' said Akbik.

"We are not alone. There's a whole international community behind our cause for democracy. Now what is expected is that you're having here more than 30 countries, with very high level delegations and the international community should force the leverage that will remove the dictator out of office," he added.

The United States and Russia, co-sponsors of the conference which U.N. officials hope will lead to negotiations in Geneva from Friday, also revealed their differences over Assad during a day of formal presentations atMontreux on Lake Geneva.

The conference has raised no great expectations, particularly among Islamist rebels who have branded Western-backed opposition leaders as traitors for even agreeing to be in the same room as Assad's delegates.