The head of Syria's main opposition bloc, Burhan Ghalioun, announced on Thursday that he is resigning, pending the naming of his successor, just two days after his controversial re-election.
"I will not allow myself to be the candidate of division, I am not attached to a position, so I announce that I will step down after a new candidate has been chosen, either by consensus or through new elections," the Paris-based academic said in a statement.
Ghalioun, who has led the Syrian National Council by consensus rather than through election since it was founded in October 2011, was re-elected as the main opposition group's chairman in a vote held in Rome on Tuesday.
He said he would remain a member of the SNC, "hand-in-hand with the young people who struggle, the young people of the revolution of dignity and freedom, until victory," while urging all opposition groups to overcome their divisions.
Ghalioun's announcement came shortly after the Local Coordination Committees, a network of activists on the ground in Syria, threatened to pull out of the SNC over its "monopolization" of power.
The SNC was particularly criticized for not sufficiently coordinating with activists inside the country, and for the strong influence wielded by representatives of Syria's Muslim Brotherhood.
Ghalioun's re-election in Tuesday's leadership contest, with 21 out of the 40 votes cast, was also criticized by activists for being decided by the Brotherhood. It came despite SNC rules that require the chairman's rotation every three months.
Left-leaning and Arab nationalist in his thinking, Ghalioun was deemed capable of representing a coalition composed of multiple tendencies, including Islamists, nationalists, liberals and independents.
Most opposition forces agreed in March, after laborious negotiations, that the SNC would be the "formal representative" of the Syrian people, despite calls for its restructuring.
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