At least 12 key members of Syria’s main opposition group, the so-called Syrian National Coalition (SNC), said on Wednesday they had suspended their membership over the choice of Ghassan Hitto.
The group of 12 included the coalition’s deputy Soheir Atassi and spokesman Walid al-Bunni. Other members who suspended their membership include Kamal Labwani, Marwan Hajj Rifai, Yehia al-Kurdi, and Ahmad al-Assi Jarba, with sources saying more such announcements were expected.
In a statement, the group said the coalition’s decisions were dictated from outside and that democratic principles were not honored. Atassi said she did not accept being what she termed a proxy for foreign powers.
Hitto, 50, was elected on Tuesday by 35 of approximately 50 dissident leaders present in Istanbul, after some 14 hours of consultation. Some members who opposed his election walked out before the vote.
Hitto, an IT executive who lived in the US for decades, has ruled out any dialog with the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for ending the two-year unrest in the Arab country.
The 62-member opposition Syrian National Coalition is based in Turkey and backed by the West and its regional allies including Qatar.