Syrian Free Army says it wants majority consensus on premier

Syria's main opposition National Coalition newly-elected Prime Minister Ghassan Hitto speaks on March 19, 2013 at a Syrian opposition meeting in Istanbul. (AFP)

The Free Syrian Army said it would only recognize an opposition prime minister who is accepted by all members of the Syrian National Coalition, following the controversial appointment of Ghassan Hitto to serve as Syria’s first opposition premier.

“The Free Syrian Army requires for its cooperation [with the opposition coalition] the achievement of a political consensus on the name of the prime minister,” FSA chief of staff General Saleem Idris said in a statement aired by Al Arabiya television.

FSA Colonel Abdel Hamid Omar Zakaria said during a discussion on Al Arabiya’s Panorama program that the opposition army’s position was not dictated by ally states such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the UAE and Turkey.

Colonel Zakaria said the support that the FSA receives from Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Qatar “must not be with the condition of imposing particular issues.”

“There are those who accused us, saying that Saudi Arabia made us adopt this position; Saudi Arabia is much more decent than taking such action.” Zakaria said.

“Saudi Arabia supports the consensus of the Syrian people and we support the kingdom’s position in this,” he added.

Hitto’s election, and the move to form a government, were opposed by some Coalition members who suspended their membership.

Opposition leader Soheir Atassi who had frozen her membership said on Thursday she was rejoining the body.

“The main reason I froze my participation is the failure of organizational work and the lack of professionalism,” Atassi wrote on her Facebook page.

“I cancelled my decision... (and) I announce that I am resuming all my responsibilities... after serious and in-depth discussions suggesting a significant change that I demanded,” she wrote.

There was no indication that the other opposition figures who had suspended their Coalition memberships were reconsidering. They included several members who walked out of the Istanbul Coalition gathering in protest at Hitto’s election.

Hitto was elected premier by 35 of the 49 Coalition members participating in the vote on Tuesday morning.

Born in 1963, he is seen by some opposition figures as the Muslim Brotherhood choice for premier, but is also known for his humanitarian work and has lived in the United States for decades, working as an IT executive.

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Last Update: 21:43 KSA 00:43 - GMT 21:43
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