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February 27, 2021

Syrian opposition meets to pick Prime Minister

The opposition Syrian National Coalition met in Turkey to elect a prime minister tasked with running rebel-held areas of Syria, the Voice of America informs. A vote is expected by today, though several previous attempts to pick a leader have failed. The coalition hopes forming a rebel government will help stabilize the rebel territory, and chairman George Sabra said Monday in Istanbul that picking a prime minister could also help those who have been displaced by the crisis. “I think this is the time for the government to be born on a steady ground.  We are in need for this kind of government for executive missions inside the free area in Syria and also in the refugee camps in the countries around Syria,” he said. Some opposition figures have criticized the move to pick a prime minister, saying the group should instead form an executive body to oversee rebel affairs or agree to a transitional government that includes members of the Syrian government. More than 100 countries have recognized the opposition coalition as the legitimate representative of the Syrian people, including the United States, Britain, France and Turkey.Favorites in the opposition prime minister vote include economist Osama Kadi, businessman Ghassan Hitto and former Syrian agriculture minister Assad Asheq Mustafa. Kadi is the founder of the Washington-based research group Syrian Center for Political and Strategic Studies.  Hitto has worked as a communications executive in the southern U.S. state of Texas. Mustafa appears to be the only major contender who served as a Syrian minister during the rule of President Bashar al-Assad’s family before defecting to the opposition.  He was the country’s agriculture minister under Assad’s father.

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