Syrian opposition elects former political prisoner as new leader
The main opposition Syrian National Coalition Saturday elected Ahmed Aasi al-Jarba, a former political prisoner, as its new president, sources in the bloc said.
Al-Jarba, a tribal figure backed by Saudi Arabia, won over his Qatar-backed rival Mustafa al-Sabbagh in a vote held in the Turkish city of Istanbul, the sources said.
The coalition has been without a leader since March when Sunni clergyman Moaz al-Khatib resigned, dpa reported.
The 115-member coalition, which groups key Syrian opposition figures living in exile and inside Syria, met for two days in Istanbul to elect a new leader.
Al-Jarba, who was jailed for two years, has a degree in political science, the sources said.
The coalition also elected Farouk Tayfur of the Muslim Brotherhood as one of two vice presidents. The other is Suheir Atassi, a well- known activist.
The alliance was created in Qatar in November to unify the Syrian opposition, which is fighting to oust President Bashar al-Assad.
However, the bloc has since been mired in divisions mainly over proposals to negotiate an end to the 27-month conflict with al-Assad's regime.
More than 93,000 people have been killed in Syria since an anti-government revolt started in March 2011, according to the United Nations.