(NEW YORK) — Change in Syria is “necessary, indispensable, unavoidable” if an end to the 18-month-conflict that left tens of thousands dead is to ever come about, the new United Nations-Arab League special representative asserts.
However, Lakhdar Brahimi, who officially took over for Kofi Annan on Monday, adds that it doesn’t involve a regime change, meaning he’s not demanding the resignation of President Bashar al-Assad — at least, not yet.
During a wide-ranging interview with international media, the veteran Algerian envoy said, “It is too early to speak about who should go and who should stay. This is not a step backwards. Mr. Assad is there and is the president of the present government.”
Annan quit in frustration last month following the refusal of both government and rebel forces to end the violence that has ravaged Syria since March 2011 and threatens to spill over into the rest of the region.
Known for advocating power-sharing, Brahimi urged “parties inside Syria to halt the fighting. Undoubtedly, this call is primarily directed to the government. More than others, it is the duty of governments, under any circumstances and anywhere, not just in Syria, to ensure security and stability for their people.”
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Reed Alexander and James Griffiths, CNN
Ben Westcott, CNN
Catherine E. Shoichet, CNN
Angela Dewan and Max Blau, CNN