- Bashar al-Assad - Syria - unrest
Syrian opposition leader resigns, says group divided
The head of the Syrian National Council, Burhan Ghalioun, stepped down on Thursday, saying the opposition group was splintered between Islamist and secular activists and had failed to live up to the sacrifices of the Syrian people.
AFP - The former head of Syria's main opposition bloc, Burhan Ghalioun, admitted after resigning Thursday that the Syrian National Council was riven with divisions and has not lived up to Syrians' sacrifices.
"We were not up to the sacrifices of the Syrian people. We did not answer the needs of the revolution enough and quickly enough," Ghalioun told AFP, adding that the bloc was split between Islamists and secular activists.
Ghalioun was speaking after the SNC announced it had accepted his resignation but asked him to stay on until the election of a new president at a meeting on June 9-10.
He announced his resignation on May 17 to avert divisions within the opposition bloc, after activists on the ground accused him of monopolising power.
"I submitted my resignation precisely to say that this path of division between Islamist and secular doesn't work and I think the Syrian regime has won in that respect because since the beginning it has tried to play on this division," the Paris-based academic said.
"Some of the secular members and even among those who were close to me have unfortunately played this game and today they are a threat to cutting the ranks of the revolution into two wings, which instead of cooperating risk confronting each other even before they've won," he said.
Ghalioun, who had led by consensus rather than through election since the SNC's founding in October, was chosen as the exile group's chairman in a vote held in Rome on May 15.
He said after announcing his plan to step down that he would remain an SNC member "hand-in-hand with the young people who struggle, the young people of the revolution of dignity and freedom, until victory", while urging all opposition groups to unite ranks.
On Wednesday, the Local Coordination Committees (LCC), a network of activists on the ground, threatened to pull out of the SNC over its lack of collaboration with activists in Syria and "monopolisation" of power.
The LCC also criticised the SNC for the strong influence that Syria's Muslim Brotherhood wields over the coalition.
Ghalioun said the SNC's slowness was down to the consensual way it was run.
"The current formula is a coalition formula of a few parties and political groups that monopolise decisions and don't give any chance to members to really take part in decisions, that's what caused a lot of inertia," he said.
"We were slow, the revolution goes at 100 kilometres per hour and we move at 100 metres per hour perhaps because we were blocked by this consensus rule," he said.
More than 12,600 people, the majority of them civilians, have died since the Syrian uprising began, according to the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, including nearly 1,500 since the putative UN-backed truce took effect April 12.