TURKEY: Syrian opposition calls for Assad to resign
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Members of Syria’s exiled opposition on Thursday called on President Bashar Assad to resign and hand over power to his vice president until a council is formed to transition the government to democracy.
Opposition leaders have been meeting for the past two days in Antalya, Turkey, to support the anti-government uprising in Syria. At the end of the conference Thursday, they issued their demands.
“The delegates have committed to the demands of the Syrian people to bring down the regime and support the people’s revolution for freedom and dignity,” said the statement issued by 300 pro-democracy activists and opposition leaders.
On Thursday, as activists conducted workshops on social networking and drafted their demands in a resort hotel, scores of Assad supporters gathered outside, some wearing T-shirts featuring a picture of the embattled president.
“We love Bashar,” they chanted on CNN.
Turkish police could be seen out in force in Antalya, ensuring that several hundred pro-government demonstrators could not reach the conference.
‘What would post-Assad Syria look like? That’s the $50-million question,’ Amr Al Azm, who helped draft the opposition statement, told CNN. “We’ve been able to begin to address what the alternative would like like ... we’ve provided a road map,” said Al Azm, a Syrian American history professor at Shawnee State University in Ohio who was in Turkey on Thursday. He is an unlikely opposition leader. Until March, he was a senior consultant on a project headed by Assad’s wife, Asma, that was supposed to reform Syria’s culture ministry.
‘What changed for me was the violence, the unprecedented level of violence that seemed random and almost uncontrolled,’ Al Azm told CNN. ‘There are people that I actually know that have had their fingernails pulled out.’
Large anti-government protests were expected again in Syria on Friday after prayers.
-- Molly Hennessy-Fiske in Cairo