Syria opposition to choose new leader

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A handout photo releaazazsed by the opposition-run Shaam News Network on Tuesday shows Syria rebel fighters scouting the area in Homs. Syria’s main political opposition will choose a new leader to unify a fractured coalition when members reconvene in Istanbul on Thursday (Friday in Manila). AFP PHOTO

ISTANBUL: Syria’s main political opposition will attempt to nominate a new leader to unify a fractured coalition when members reconvene in Istanbul on Thursday (Friday in Manila).

Frontrunners include the secretary general of the Syrian National Coalition Mustafa al-Sabbagh, and Ahmad Assi Jarba, representing the faction of veteran secular dissident Michel Kilo.

Recognized by dozens of states and organizations as the legi-timate representative of the Syrian people, the umbrella group is seeking a successor to interim president Georges Sabra, who may also seek nomination.

The opposition has been rudderless after the departure in May of Ahmad Moaz al-Khatib in protest at the world’s “inaction” over Syria’s civil war.


Coalition member Samir Nashar said that, “The names of Ahmad Assi Jarba, representing Michel Kilo’s faction, and Mus-tafa al-Sabbagh, representing the local councils, are being formally proposed as possible leaders for the coalition, but there could be surprises.

“Informally, the names of Burhan Ghalioun, Georges Sabra and Louay Safi are also being discussed. But of course we never know. If there is speedy agreement on the name of the new president, then I would still have some hope,” Nashar said on Wednesday.

The nomination of a new chief had initially been mooted for the end of May but was postponed after eight days of talks stalled in the face of conflicting views on the future direction of the coalition.

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