Syria opposition chief to resign amid infighting

May 18, 2012

ABC Sydney

The head of the main Syrian opposition body says he is ready to quit, following mounting criticism of his leadership.

The Syrian National Council (SNC) re-elected Burhan Ghalioun as its president earlier this week, but some members argued the decision would not help to promote a democratic alternative to president Bashar al-Assad.

Ghalioun, a Paris-based academic, has been accused of monopolising power and failing to give enough support to activists inside Syria.

“I declare my resignation as soon as a replacement is found through elections or consensus,” Mr Ghalioun said.

“I have not chosen this post for personal gain, but I have been accepting it to preserve cohesion.

“I am not ready to be a cause for division. The revolution is above personalities.”

The resignation offer was welcomed by some of Mr Ghalioun’s more vocal critics, who said it could pave the way for the SNC to patch up its rifts in the process of choosing another leader.

Infighting within the Syrian National Council has hindered its efforts to win formal international recognition.

Bloodshed continues

Meanwhile, violence continued inside Syria as government forces shelled the central town of Rastan, according to residents.

An opposition group said security forces also carried out a campaign of arrests in suburbs of the capital Damascus, and skirmished with rebels.

The account from the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which said a total of 40 people had been killed by government forces across the country on Wednesday, could not be verified independently.

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