Syrian opposition factions choose ex-PM to lead talks

Syrian opposition factions choose ex-PM to lead talks
2 min read
18 December, 2015
The former Syrian Prime Minister Riyad Hijab who defected to the opposition has been elected to lead the Syrian opposition's delegation in talks with the regime on Thursday.
Hijab will the lead the opposition's delegation in talks with the Syrian regime [AFP]

The former Assad regime Prime Minister Riyad Hijab who defected to the opposition in 2012 has been elected to lead the Syrian opposition's delegation in talks with the regime on Thursday.

The Syrian opposition's Supreme Negotiations Committee voted for Hijab in a meeting held in the Saudi capital Riyadh on Thursday.

The former Syrian PM received 24 out of 34 votes to assume the position of chief coordinator of the opposition's team that will enter into direct talks with the Assad regime early next year as per the Vienna plan, according to an opposition source who wished to remain anonymous.

     Riyad Hijab who was appointed as Syrian Prime Minister in June 2011 is the highest-level defector from the Syrian regime

The committee that was formed on the back of the Syrian opposition conference in Riyadh last week is charged with initiating direct talks with the Assad regime with the aim of forming a new political system in Syria that does not include Bashar al-Assad.

Riyad Hijab who was appointed as Syrian Prime Minister in June 2011 is the highest-level defector from the Syrian regime after defecting on 6 August 2012 from what he described as a "murderous regime".

His appointment to lead the opposition negotiation team comes a day before the UN Security Council holds a meeting to endorse the Vienna plan and US Secretary of State, John Kerry, hosts a meeting of the International Syria Support Group in New York.

The US State Department announced on Wednesday that the countries involved in the Vienna talks, including Iran and Saudi Arabia, will be invited to the International Syria Support Group meeting.

The meeting aims to define the notion of a transition and a ceasefire, and to brief participants about the outcome of the Syrian opposition conference held in Riyadh last week.

The Syrian conflict, which started after a brutal regime crackdown on peaceful protests in 2011, has resulted in the death of more than 250,000 Syrians and the displacement of millions.