MOSCOW / WASHINGTON, July 7 (RIA Novosti) - Syria’s main Western-backed opposition group, Syrian National Coalition, elected Ahmad Jarba as its new leader on Saturday, Al-Jazeera reported.
The post remained vacant since Mouaz Khatib left it in April, due to divisions in the coalition. The meeting was the opposition group’s second attempt in recent months to unify ranks.
Former political prisoner Jarba failed to secure an absolute majority during the vote in the 114-member council, receiving 55 votes, while his opponent businessman Mustafa Sabbagh gathered 52 votes.
Three vice presidents - Farouk Tayfour, Salem Muslit and Suhair Atassi - were also elected in Saturday’s vote, which took place in the Turkish city of Istanbul. Badr Jamous was elected as the council’s new Secretary General.
The US Department of State Spokesperson Jen Psaki welcomed the vote, saying that “the united opposition is essential to achieve a negotiated political solution in which Bashar Assad steps down, and a new transition government leads all Syrians to dignity, freedom and hope for the future.”