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Syrian opposition reveals makeup of national council

(Xinhua)

08:05, September 16, 2011

Basma Kadmani, a Paris-based Syrian opposition member speaks at a press conference held in Istanbul on Sept. 15, 2011. Members of the Syrian opposition managed to put aside their differences and agreed on the makeup of the National Council in Turkey's largest city Istanbul on Thursday. (Xinhua/Ma yan)

ISTANBUL, Sept. 15 (Xinhua) -- Members of the Syrian opposition managed to put aside their differences and agreed on the makeup of the National Council in Turkey's largest city Istanbul on Thursday.


The council will broadly be based on the principle of representing different sections of the Syrian society, according to Dr. Halit Hoca, a member of the council.

For example, 30 percent of the council members may be from Islamic-leaning groups, 30 percent left-leaning groups and 40 percent from various ethnic groups present in Syria, he said, adding that they didn't want to be rigid about percentages.

Hoca said that the council is made up of 65 people who live outside Syria and 70 from inside at the moment, although this number will be open to expansion as new figures will join the council.

"Everyone who is committed to our basic principles is welcome to join the council," said Yasser Tabbara, an independent member of the council.

Tabbara told Xinhua that the basic principles of the council consist of toppling Bashar al-Assad's regime, commitment to peaceful nature of the revolution, opposition to any foreign intervention and maintaining the national unity of Syria.

He also said it is unlikely that the council will see eye-to- eye with the recently formed party named "the Current for Building up the Syrian State" in Damascus since the council would not work with anyone who negotiated with the Assad government.

The various positions in the National Council will be determined after an election process is completed in the next few weeks, said Tabbara.

Syrian dissidents first announced the formation of the council in Istanbul on Aug. 23.

"The council sees three stages in the near future consisting of changing the regime, post-regime transition and then the future political path," said Bassmah Ghodami, a Paris-based Syrian opposition member.

Ghodami said each stage is expected to last six months but the timeframe is flexible depending on events on the ground.

Another aim of the council is to create a political umbrella for Syria's rebels, according to Ghodami.

Imadettin Rashid, another member of the council, said they want a civil and modern government, which protects human rights, and new constitution that will guarantee equal rights of every Syrian citizen.

He also said the Syrian army's role will be protecting the country's borders and will not be politicized.

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