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Absi Smeisem

Syrian National Coalition to elect new leadership

Nasr al-Hariri is likely to emerge as the SNC's next leader [AFP]

Date of publication: 3 January, 2015

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The leading contenders to take the SNC forward over the next year are Michel Kilo and current Secretary-General Nasr al-Hariri.

Michel Kilo is reported to be facing off against Syrian National Coalition Secretary-General Nasr al-Hariri for the presidency of the opposition group.

The SNC's general commission is set to conclude its 18th round of meetings on Sunday with a vote for a new head of the SNC, their deputies and the 19 members of the political commission.

An SNC source added that current Hadi al-Bahra, the current president, does not want to run again. Political commission member Hisham Marwa has also ruled himself out.

SNC member Burhan Ghalioun and former Syrian Prime Minister Riyad Hijab have reportedly said the race for the SNC's top job should be resolved by consensus without elections.

"The SNC's political body has stressed the need for elections, so Ghalioun and Hijab entering the race seems unlikely at the moment, confining the battle to Kilo and Hariri," the SNC source told al-Araby al-Jadeed.

It is possible his sudden and secretive visit with Bahra last week to Saudi Arabia was to present [himself] as a candidate.
- Anonymous SNC member

The source said that Hariri would likely win the presidency because, while he is close to the Muslim Brotherhood, he is not a member. Turkey also reportedly favours his candidacy.

"This may not please Saudi Arabia," he said. "It is possible his sudden and secretive visit with Bahra last week to Saudi Arabia was to present [himself] as a candidate and to pave the way for him to become president of the SNC."

During the trip, in which the Russian initiative was discussed, SNC and Saudi officials also reportedly discussed the presidential elections, the SNC's financial crisis and the attempt to release SNC funds frozen by Saudi Arabia.

The source said they expected the winner of the election to face serious issues with funding, especially as there is an international initiative led by Turkey, France and some Gulf states to enhance the role of the interim government, which could ultimately freeze the role of the SNC.

Struggles for funding and relevance

The SNC is reportedly trying to extricate itself from these crises by enhancing its influence over the interim government.

"There is talk that the first measure the SNC plans to take if Hariri wins the presidency is to move the SNC's operations into the liberated territories in Aleppo," the source added.

The SNC is this weekend discussing the situation on the ground in Syria, the SNC visit to Egypt, correspondence between the SNC and the National Coordination Committee, the political situation in Syria, the plan of the UN mediator, and Russia's recent moves.

SNC internal issues are also being discussed, along with its internal rules and regulations, finances and the agenda of each presidential candidate, in preparation for the scheduled vote on the meeting's third and final day.

The incoming president will serve for one year instead of six months, as had previously been the case, after SNC internal procedures were amended in the group's last meeting.

This is an edited translation from our Arabic edition.

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