Syrian opposition to hold runoff vote for new leader

Coalition has been without a leader for months; runoff ballot to be held between Saudi and Qatari favorites.

July 6, 2013 04:36
Syrian opposition attend  National Conference.

Syrian internal opposition members (R370). (photo credit: REUTERS/Khaled Al Hariri)

ISTANBUL- The Syrian opposition voted on Saturday to elect a new leader, but the top two candidates failed to gain a simple majority needed to become president of the coalition fighting to oust President Bashar Assad.

A runoff ballot was scheduled for later on Saturday after Ahmad Jarba, a tribal figure linked with Saudi Arabia, and Mustafa al-Sabbagh, a businessman who is Qatar's point man, did not gain more than half of the votes in the 115 member Syrian National Coalition in an early morning ballot in Istanbul.

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The coalition is split into three power centers: the Muslim Brotherhood, the Sabbagh faction, and a Saudi-backed bloc that includes Jarba.

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The three factions held the vote for a new leader after failing to agree on a compromise candidate.

The coalition has been without a leader for months after its head quit over disagreement over potential talks with Assad's government.

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