Last Updated: Wed May 16, 2012 06:51 am (KSA) 03:51 am (GMT)

Syria National Council reelects Ghalioun president

Burhan Ghalioun garnered 21 votes in the leadership battle while Sabra, won 11 of the 40 votes cast by members of the general secretariat. (Reuters)
Burhan Ghalioun garnered 21 votes in the leadership battle while Sabra, won 11 of the 40 votes cast by members of the general secretariat. (Reuters)

Burhan Ghalioun was elected on Tuesday as head of the exiled opposition coalition, the Syrian National Council, SNC source told AFP.

Ghalioun, a secular academic, has been leader of the opposition in exile since the SNC’s creation in August 2011.

Some fellow activists have criticized him for being out of touch with the opposition inside Syria and for failing to unify the SNC.

But the 67-year-old has the backing of the Gulf States and France, and is seen as a consensus figure in the group, where Islamists, who are divided into different factions, hold sway.

Aware that he is an acceptable figure to the international community, the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood have supported him.

“Ghalioun was re-elected for another three-month term,” one of the sources told Reuters after a meeting of the council’s general secretariat, which chooses the president every three months. “He won 66 percent of the vote.”

George Sabra, another liberal who is an ally of Syria’s top dissident Riad al-Turk, came second, the sources said.

Turk, an 81-year-old former leftist who spent 25 years as a political prisoner, operates underground inside Syria. The opposition looks to him for moral guidance.

Ghalioun garnered 21 votes in the leadership battle while Sabra, won 11 of the 40 votes cast by members of the general secretariat, the source said.

The SNC is Syria’s main opposition umbrella group ranged against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.

The vote was held in Rome, where exiled university professor Ghalioun and other SNC members were meeting.


The vote came as Syria’s anti-regime revolt entered its 15th month on Tuesday, amid relentless violence that has killed more than 12,000 people, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

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