Wednesday 20 March 2013

Hitto election unsettles Syrian opposition coalition

SNA deputy leader Suhair Atassi

Key members of the Syrian National Coalition (SNA) -- including deputy leader Suhair Atassi -- have suspended their membership of the opposition umbrella group, a day after the election of Ghassan Hitto as opposition prime minister (see yesterday's post).
Joining Atassi in the protest move are prominent activists and opposition campaigners Dr. Walid al-Bunni and Kamal al-Labwani.
Bunni and Labwani walked out of the SNA meeting in Istanbul prior to Hitto’s election by 35 votes of 48 ballots cast.
Atassi, who is SNA leader Moaz al-Khatib’s deputy, wrote on her Facebook page a while ago: “I am the one who insisted on having a clause in the bylaws banning any SNA member from assuming a position in the interim government. Let it be known I was asked to resign from the SNA to be part of the government and I refused. I said we couldn’t just flout the rules we set… The revolution deserves better than this…”
She was saying Hitto is within, not outwith, the SNA, which broke the rule.
Al Mayadeen TV, which speaks for the axis of Iran, the Syrian regime and Hezbollah, quoted Dr. Bunni as saying, “Hitto was not elected but appointed to head the interim government.”
AFP later quoted Dr. Bunni as saying, "We Coalition members weren't elected to represent the Syrians. So the only persons Hitto represents are the 35 Coalition members who voted for him. This government is a gift to Bashar al-Assad's regime.
"The key issue is the timing and way in which the voting took place. The Coalition pushed for a majority in a group that was not elected.
"Each of us had different reasons for freezing our membership. We will release a statement that represents us all in the coming days.”
Speculation is rife that other SNA members might follow in Atassi, Bunni and Labwani’s suit.