ISTANBUL – The main Western-backed opposition group in Syria has elected an interim prime minister as it seeks to firm up its standing as a viable political alternative there.
The Syrian National Coalition voted during a meeting in Istanbul on Saturday to name Ahmad Saleh Touma, a dentist and longtime political activist, to lead the group. Touma’s election comes as the United States and Russia have reached a deal to secure and destroy Syria’s chemical weapons and are seeking a breakthrough on broad talks to end the long and deadly Syrian civil war.
Touma is the second SNC member to fill the post. Ghassan Hitto resigned in July after serving only a few months.
Touma will be charged with organizing governance in parts of Syria controlled by disparate rebel factions.
According to the Syrian National Coalition, Touma has a history of dissent from the Syrian government going back to 2001, when he joined groups calling for more freedoms and the release of political prisoners.