Syria Opposition in New Bid to Name Premier


The opposition Syrian National Coalition plans to meet in Istanbul next week to elect a prime minister for rebel-held areas of the country, a member said on Friday.

"The Coalition is to meet on March 18-19 in Istanbul. So far, the meeting is going ahead, and it is to choose the head of government. Consultations are continuing," Samir Nashar told Agence France Presse.

He said different names were being put forward.

"At times there is a name that has the upper hand, then another, things change. One of the reasons for the differences on the identity of the head of government is foreign intervention," he said, referring to the opposition's foreign supporters.

The SNC, the main bloc within the Coalition, has proposed its former head Burhan Ghalioun and members Salim al-Moslet and Osama Kadi. Other names include ex-Syrian prime minister Riad Hijab, who defected last summer, and Khaled Mustafa.

The opposition has already twice postponed meetings due to have been held earlier this month because of a lack of consensus on the choice of premier.

The Arab League said on March 6 it is prepared to hand Syria's seat in the organisation to the opposition battling to oust President Bashar Assad if it sets up an executive body.

The umbrella group would retain Syria's seat in the 22-member organisation "until elections leading to the formation of a government to assume the responsibilities of power in Syria," it said.

The pan-Arab organisation suspended Syria's membership in late 2011.

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