Activist voted head of Syria opposition group

Last updated 10:25 12/11/2012
Moaz al-Khatib
Reuters
NEW LEADER: Activist preacher Moaz al-Khatib at the General Assembly of the Syrian National Council in Doha.

Relevant offers

World

Donald Trump promised millions to charity, but less than $15,000 can be found over seven years Istanbul airport attack: Police officer 'tackled suicide bomber before blast' California gets go-ahead to vote on legalisation of marijuana Venezuelans are storming supermarkets and attacking trucks as food supplies dwindle 'I miss Daddy': Family's anguish after father bullied into suicide Brexit: An opportunity for a more united, integrated Europe? Or coping with the unexpected? Robert Scollay: A Brexit-free lunch for Britain? Probably not Nasa rocket clears hurdle on path to Mars US mother killed by police after she shot two daughters to death, police say Data files from crashed EgyptAir plane sent back to Egypt

Activist preacher Moaz al-Khatib has been elected as the first leader of a new Syrian opposition umbrella group that hopes to win international recognition and prepare for a post-Assad Syria.

Influential businessman Riad Seif, who proposed the US-backed initiative to set up an umbrella group of opposition groups inside and outside Syria, was elected as deputy president along with Suhair al-Atassi, a well-known female activist.

Opposition figures had struggled for days in Doha to find unity, under heavy pressure from US diplomats and officials from Qatar, which has bankrolled much Syrian opposition activity since an uprising began last year.

Khatib, a former imam at the famous Umayyad mosque in Damascus, was imprisoned several times for criticising Assad's rule before he left Syria for Cairo this year. Delegates said he had been the only candidate for the post of president.

"He is from Damascus and is a famous man from there. I think this is a serious step against the regime, and a serious step towards freedom," Syrian National Council leader George Sabra said. He also praised the choices of Seif and Atassi.

"They are very good representatives of this project. They are activists in our revolution. Most of them have made large sacrifices for the people inside the country."

Opposition backers had lost faith in the SNC, the group that has led efforts to organise opposition to Assad outside Syria, accusing it of being ineffective against Assad, disconnected from events on the ground and riven by personal disputes.

The new group has said it will be more inclusive, encompassing rebels on the ground as well as minorities and women.

Islamists, mainly from the Muslim Brotherhood, were seen as the most dominant group in the SNC and are expected to be a strong voice in the new group too.

The coalition hopes to win international recognition as the sole legitimate representative of the Syrian people and form a government-in-waiting like the Transitional National Council that took over in Libya after Muammar Gaddafi's fall last year.

Ad Feedback

- Reuters

Special offers

Featured Promotions

Sponsored Content