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Syrian opposition in disarray as leader attempts to resign

But matters were confused by the Syrian National Coalition’s refusal to accept Ahmed Moaz al-Khatib’s resignation earlier today.

Moaz al-Khatib (File photo)
Moaz al-Khatib (File photo)
Image: Riccardo De Luca/AP/Press Association Images

OPPOSITION CHIEF AHMED Moaz al-Khatib has announced his resignation from the National Coalition, throwing Syria’s divided opposition into disarray ahead of an Arab summit.

“I announce my resignation from the National Coalition, so that I can work with a freedom that cannot possibly be had in an official institution,” Khatib said in a statement posted on his Facebook page.

Neither the Coalition’s presidential office nor its general assembly has yet accepted Khatib’s resignation, the group said in a statement.

“Some Coalition members have asked Khatib to return to his post,” an opposition source told AFP, adding that the group had yet to decide whether to accept Khatib’s announcement.

And key opposition backer Qatar called on Khatib to reverse his decision, the official news agency QNA reported, citing Prime Minister and top diplomat Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem Al-Thani.

Hamad said he “hoped Khatib will reconsider his decision to resign, because it has come at a critical and important moment”, QNA said.

Khatib’s announcement threw Syria’s divided opposition into chaos just two days before Arab heads of state were due to decide in Doha whether to give it Damascus’s vacant seat in the Arab League.

Set up in Doha in November, the Coalition is a dissident group recognised by dozens of states and organisations as legitimate representative of the Syrian people.

Khatib’s surprise resignation came just days after the first election in Istanbul of a rebel prime minister, Ghassan Hitto, and just over two years on from the outbreak of a popular revolt against President Bashar al-Assad.

“For the past two years, we have been slaughtered by an unprecedentedly vicious regime, while the world has looked on,” Khatib said. “I had made a promise to our great people that I would resign if any red lines were crossed.”

An opposition source in Doha, where the Arab League is to hold a summit on Tuesday, told AFP that Khatib accused “certain countries, notably Qatar, of wanting to control the opposition” and of having imposed Hitto.

The Arab League on March 6 called on the coalition “to form an executive body to take up Syria’s seat” and attend the summit, although Iraq and Algeria have expressed reservations, while Lebanon has distanced itself from the decision.

© AFP, 2013

Read: Assad vows to ‘cleanse’ Syria after attack

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