Middle East

Syria opposition council members delay Doha talks

Syrian National Council opposition group leader Abdulbaset Sieda, attends a press conference after a parlementary hearing at French National Assembly in Paris, Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2012. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)

BEIRUT: A meeting next week of the Syrian National Council to admit new anti-regime factions into the main opposition bloc has been postponed until early November, an SNC official said on Friday.

The delay comes after the umbrella organisation was flooded by requests from groups wanting to join it, SNC official Anas al-Abdi told AFP, adding that the meeting will now take place in early November instead of on October 17.

On Monday another senior member, Louay al-Safi, told AFP that the SNC was planning a major makeover at a meeting in Doha in Qatar amid criticism that it has failed to properly represent activists battling the Damascus government.

"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 Safi said.

Abdi said the preliminary meetings will still take place as planned, but the council will meet early next month rather than on October 17.

The SNC "has received a huge number of requests for membership" and needs time to study them, Abdi said, explaining the reason why the Doha meeting has been postponed.

However, other SNC sources said the delay reflects deep internal tensions with some groups opposed to allowing certain groups to join the ranks of the council.

The SNC has emerged as the "legitimate" interlocutor of the international community since its creation about six months after the start of the uprising against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in mid-March last year.

But divisions have dogged opposition ranks from the start, with some groups -- unlike the SNC -- staunchly opposed to foreign intervention in the Syria conflict and violent regime change.

Activists on the ground also complain that they are not properly represented within the SNC or by opposition figures who live in exile.





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