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Syria opposition delays decision on govt-in-exile

The Syrian National Council postpones the establishment of a government-in-exile during a meeting in Istanbul

AFP , Monday 21 Jan 2013
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The Syrian opposition said on Monday it had postponed a decision on forming a government-in-exile at its meeting in Istanbul, saying it needs guarantees of support from dissident forces on the ground.

The Syrian National Council (SNC), a key component of the umbrella opposition Syrian National Coalition, said the meeting held on Sunday formed a five-member panel to consult with the rebel Free Syrian Army, and other concerned parties on the issue.

"After studying the proposals and after deliberation on the question of creating an interim government, we decided to set up a five-member committee tasked with consulting with the forces of the revolution, the Free Syrian Army and friendly countries," the council said.

The council is an influential member of the Syrian National Coalition, which was set up in Doha in November in a bid to unify opposition forces fighting President Bashar al-Assad's regime.

On Monday, the chief of the coalition Moaz al-Khatib ended a brief visit to Doha aimed at gathering financial aid to the opposition, said Louay al-Safi, a member of the bloc.

Khatib, who arrived in the gas-rich country on Sunday, held "very fruitful meetings" with high-ranking officials in Doha, including Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem al-Thani, said Safi.

Khatib, who heads to Istanbul Monday "requested additional support" to rebels in the country, he said.

Khatib's visit to Qatar "will influence the decision to create a transitional government because many parties within the coalition refuse forming it if it was not supported by international funding," said Safi.

Earlier Monday the opposition said the five-member committee would also be tasked with exploring "the extent of (opposition and international) commitment in order for the work to be financially and politically feasible."

The panel includes, among others, Khatib, Syrian National Council head George Sabra and prominent Paris-based dissident, Burhan Ghalioun.

The opposition is due to meet again on January 28 in Paris, along with representatives of some 20 countries that back the revolt against Assad.

Since it was formed, the National Coalition has been recognised by scores of states and organisations as the sole legitimate representative of the Syrian people.

Syria's 22-month revolt has been racked by political schisms and unmet promises of financial and military aid by the international community, dissidents say.

More than 60,000 people have been killed so far in the conflict that erupted in March 2011, according to United Nations figures.

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