Middle East

Syria opposition bloc plans massive makeover

Abdel Basset Sida, leader of the opposition Syrian National Council (R), chats with council member George Sabra during a news conference in Istanbul July 13, 2012. (REUTERS/Murad Sezer)

DOHA: The opposition Syrian National Council, often accused of failing to represent the diverse blocs fighting the regime, is planning a major makeover at a meeting in Doha next week, a member said Monday.

"The secretariat preliminary meetings will begin on the 15th and 16th of October while the council members will hold a meeting on the 17th," SNC member Louay al-Safi told AFP.

"The most important point which will be discussed is restructuring the bloc and expanding it as a further step towards uniting the Syrian opposition under a broader framework," he said.

Safi said new political and civil society groups will join the SNC -- the main opposition bloc -- including a Turkmen bloc and Nasserist socialists "as well as several political blocs, most of them from the revolt groups inside the country."

Twenty-five new NGOs would also join the SNC.

Last month, the SNC agreed to expand to include more opposition groups, but not the National Coordination Committee for Democratic Change, which favours non-violent regime change and opposes foreign military intervention in Syria.

Alya Mansur, a member of the SNC general secretariat, told AFP the council would also elect its secretariat at the Doha meeting which she said will run until around October 20.

The move follows criticism from within and outside the group that it is failing to unite the diverse opposition forces working against President Bashar al-Assad, after nearly 19 months of a brutal conflict that has engulfed Syria.

The bloc's general assembly will grow from 300 to 400 members and each opposition group will be represented by 20 members, SNC spokesman George Sabra said last month.

The election comes under a reform agreed in Stockholm. The assembly must still choose an executive bureau and leader for the SNC.

More than 31,000 people have been killed in violence in Syria since the uprising against Assad erupted in March last year, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.





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