Syrian Kurds criticise UN envoy over new committee

A Kurdish official says having 'a couple of Kurds' from northeast Syria on the committee is not enough.

    An official with the main Kurdish-led force in Syria said on Sunday the Kurdish people were not represented on the constitutional committee in charge of drafting a new Syrian constitution.

    Mustafa Bali's comments came after the United Nations special envoy for Syria, Geir Pedersen, on Saturday told Al Jazeera although the main Kurdish militia in Syria was not represented - "it is important for me to emphasise that of course also we have Kurdish representatives on the committee".

    Bali tweeted that Pedersen "must know that having a couple of Kurds" from northeast Syria who are allied with the Syrian government or the opposition" did not mean Kurds were represented on the committee.

    Pedersen defended the constitutional committee saying: "This is Syrians sitting together for the first time after eight and a half years working on their own constitution." 

    UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres announced earlier this month a deal was reached on a committee for a new Syria constitution.

    The constitutional committee will include 150 people - 50 from the Syrian government, 50 from the opposition, and a further 50 chosen by the UN and members of Syrian civil society.

    'Without interference'

    Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem, in his address to the UN General Assembly on Saturday, took a more hardline approach as to what one could expect from the committee, asserting "no deadline" should be imposed on it.

    He insisted it be run entirely by Syria with no preconditions set by other countries.

    "The committee must be independent. Its recommendations must be made independently, without interference from any country or party," he said.

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    His comments came in light of a UN document released on Saturday showing in addition to amending Syria's current constitution or writing a new one, the committee was mandated to organise "free-and-fair elections" in the country under the supervision of the world body once the constitution was drafted.

    Pedersen said his mandate was to make sure all Syrians - including the diaspora - were allowed to vote in an election under UN supervision.

    The UN envoy said he "guarantees" a vote will be "based on the aspirations" of the Syrian people.

    A first meeting of the committee, which took almost two years to negotiate, has been scheduled for October 30 in Geneva.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies