Syrian opposition expands, adds 43 new members


Syrian National Coalition  logoSYRIA’S divided opposition group has officially expanded to include 43 new members, after eight days of meetings marred by internal bickering and international pressure.

The total number of National Coalition members is now 114, acting chief George Sabra told reporters, adding that the general assembly had concluded.

Among the new Coalition seats are “15 from the (rebel Free Syrian Army’s) Chief of Staff, 14 members of the revolutionary movements inside Syria and 14 others”, said Sabra.

He welcomed the FSA and the activist movements’ entrance into the group, adding that “they are the guarantors of the revolution” against President Bashar al-Assad.

Twenty-nine of the group’s seats have yet to be filled. The FSA’s seats will go to civilian members of the rebel army, officials said.

Despite extending what was scheduled to be a three-day meeting, the group has failed to agree on a new president and an interim rebel government.

Though Sabra’s interim mandate has expired, the election of a president has been postponed till “no later than June 12”, said group spokesman Khaled al-Saleh.

The Coalition is recognised by dozens of states and organisations as the legitimate representative of the Syrian people, but it suffers from deep divisions and conflicting international bids for influence that stall its progress.

Sabra said the group had agreed on a “plan for the transitional period”, but did not elaborate.

The group had also set up agricultural, education and health committees to try and mitigate the humanitarian crisis in Syria, he added.

The Australian