SNC head quits as Syrian opposition divides

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Al-Akhbar Management

Published Thursday, May 17, 2012

The head of the opposing Syrian National Council offered his resignation on Thursday after the rival Local Coordination Committees threatened to withdraw from the council.

Burhan Ghalioun declared on he was ready to step down from the SNC presidency when an alternative is available, only two days after being reelected to the post.

"I declare my resignation as soon as a replacement is found through elections or consensus," Ghalioun told Reuters.

Ghalioun, who was re-elected on Tuesday to serve his third term as head of the SNC, added that he is “not ready to be a cause for division. The revolution is above personalities.”

His resignation followed a statement issued on Thursday by The Local Coordination Committees – a major activists group, working both inside and outside Syria - threatening to withdraw from the SNC.

“After refusing to participate in the Council's activities for the past two months, the last of which was the general assembly's meeting in Rome, we find in the deteriorating council a reason for further steps, which might start with suspending our membership to withdrawing,” the statement said.

The LCC claimed the leadership of the council, Syria's largest opposition umbrella group, had been monopolizing decision-making powers. The statement mentioned the re-election of Burhan Galioun to a third term as one example of the lack of democracy.

The statement pointed also to “the marginalization of most of the members of the movement and of the council's general assembly.”

It also condemned the “political incompetence” of the council and the “lack of consensus between its vision and that of the revolutionaries.”

Ghalioun's resignation will lead to speculation about potential successors, with George Sabra, a Christian council member who ran against Galioun in Tuesday's elections, a prime candidate.

A possible withdrawal of the LCC would deprive the SNC of an important ally. The LCC is one of the few opposition groups working inside Syria and is an asset to the council, has been accused of being too heavily focussed on expatriate Syrians.

(Al-Akhbar/AP/Reuters)

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