Middle East

Coalition to meet to discuss resignations

File - Walid al-Bunni, spokesman of National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces, speaks during a press conference on December 27, 2012, in Istanbul. (AFP PHOTO/BULENT KILIC)

BEIRUT: The Syrian opposition-in-exile National Coalition will meet over the weekend in Istanbul to discuss restructuring moves and whether to accept the resignation of seven of its members.

A spokesperson said the meetings, scheduled to begin Sunday, would tackle a variety of topics, including an initiative to reform the body’s decision-making process, submitted by prominent dissident Riad Saif.

However, while pro-opposition media outlets have indicated the coalition had decided to accept the resignation of seven members, among them Kamal Labwani, the spokesperson denied this, saying the upcoming meeting would likely issue a decision on the matter.

Labwani made waves recently for proposing that Syria give the Golan Heights to Israel in exchange for Israeli assistance in toppling the regime of President Bashar Assad.

The initiative was widely condemned in opposition circles.

The spokesperson said that Labwani and six other members have tendered formal letters announcing their resignation from the coalition, and might see their requests formally accepted in Istanbul.

Another 37 members have only “withdrawn” from the group by staying away from meetings, and some are expected to return to the fold of the opposition group.

The coalition is also set to discuss filling portfolios in its interim government and introducing changes to its mechanisms for representing various strands of the opposition.

It is also scheduled to discuss the merits of attending new peace talks, in the wake of the Geneva II conference’s failure this year.

Ban Ki-moon, the U.N. secretary-general, said Tuesday that he was beginning the process of preparing for Geneva III, although there is a great deal of skepticism about the prospects for a resumption of peace talks. The last round, held in Switzerland in January and February, ended without tangible results, as the warring sides differed over the agenda.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on April 03, 2014, on page 8.




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