Syrian National Council had elected Kurdish activist Abdelbasset Sida as its new chairman at a meeting in Istanbul, Reuters reports.
Kurdish activist Abdelbasset Sida has been living in exile in Sweden for many years and was the only candidate for the three-month presidency of the SNC at a meeting of 43 representatives of the councils' general secretariat. The 56-year-old succeeds Dr. Burhan Ghalioun, who widely criticized after his term was constantly renewed since the inception of the SNC in August 2011.
During a press conference on Saturday, Sida said that he and his group are strongly supporting the Free Syrian Army in its campaign to topple the government of President Bashar al-Assad.
The new chairman wants to develop and improve the Syrian National Council as he plans to begin discussions with other opposition figures, outside and inside Syria . Abdelbaset will now have to convene a plenary meeting in order to elect a new secretary general.
Sida does not belong to any political party and his name is not familiar to many Syrians. He belongs to Syria’s Kurds, which represent around nine percent of Syria’s 23 million population. SNC officials say he is a “conciliatory” figure, “honest” and “independent," Al-arabiya news reported.
It is worth mentioning that the SNC, which was established in the beginning of the popular revolution in Syria, is supposed to represent a democratic alternative to the authoritarian regime of President Bashar al-Assad. The Muslim Brotherhood is the most influential player in the SNC. Some opposition figures had initially expressed interest in maintaining Dr. Burhan Ghalioun at the presidency. But they eventually provided support for Abdelbasset bowing to the protests of opposition activists inside Syria after a third re-appointment of Ghalioun last month.
On the ground, the violence continues as at least 83 people were killed Saturday in Syria, nearly half of them killed in Homs and capital of Damascus.
According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, Residents of Damascus also reported clashes between Syrian government troops and the opposition Free Syrian Army. There were reports of shooting in the heart of the capital, including the upscale Mazzeh district.