Last updated: 15 March, 2013

Syrian 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 AFP.

The Coalition posted on its Facebook account a list of 10 candidates.

They include Osama Kadi and Salim al-Moslet of key opposition group the Syrian National Council, as well as long-time Christian dissident Michel Kilo.

Former SNC head Burhan Ghalioun had been named in previous lists but does not figure on Friday’s lineup. Defected ex-prime minister Riad Hijab’s candidacy has also been dropped.

“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,” Nashar said, referring to foreign backers.

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 al-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.