Envoy calls for transitional government in Syria


BEIRUT (AP) — The international envoy charged with pushing to end Syria's civil war called on Thursday for the formation of a transitional government with "full executive powers" to run the country until new elections can be held.

Lakhdar Brahimi is apparently seeking to revive a peace plan launched by world powers in Geneva in June that never took off because neither side was interested in carrying it out.

The original Geneva plan called for the establishment of a national unity government with full executive powers that could include members of Assad's government, the opposition and other groups. It was to oversee the drafting of a new constitution and elections.

Because of Russian objections, that plan did not call specifically for Assad's ouster, nor did it ban him from participation in the new government — making it a non-starter with the opposition.

"The Syrian people seek genuine change," Brahimi told reporters in Damascus, adding that the transitional period "must not lead to the collapse of the state or the state's institutions."

On Thursday, Brahimi did not specify how his plan would treat Assad, and said it still needed to be determined whether the called-for elections would be for president or parliament.

The Syrian government did not immediately comment on Brahimi's suggestion.

In Moscow, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevic said Russia is trying to revive the June plan. He also reaffirmed Moscow's objection to calls for Assad's ouster.

Anti-regime activists say more than 40,000 people have been killed since crisis began in March 2011.


Associated Press writer Albert Aji contributed reporting from Damascus.