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SNC voices new reservations over Syria opposition plan

syrian222DOHA: Syrian National Council said on Saturday that it would put its own proposals to delayed talks on broadening the base of the opposition, despite mounting frustration with its stance among other dissident factions.


The group, once regarded as the leading representative of the opposition but increasingly derided in Washington as dominated by out-of-touch exiles, had already twice requested postponement of the talks on plans for a broad-based government-in-waiting.


"We have started an open dialogue with our brothers and looked at their initiative," SNC leader George Sabra told a news conference ahead of the resumption of talks in the Qatari capital with other factions.


"But we have our own point of view and our own ideas that we plan to put forward," he said.


"The SNC is older than... any other initiative" on the table, said Sabra, adding that no opposition group should be forced under the banner of another.


The SNC has been vying to keep its leading role in the face of US- and Arab-backed proposals to form a new broad-based government-in-waiting that could win deeper support.


The proposals, inspired by leading dissident Riad Seif who is reportedly seen by Washington as a potential new opposition leader, envisage the formation of a transitional government, a military council to oversee rebel groups on the ground and a judiciary to operate in rebel-held areas.


The 10-member transitional government would be elected by a new 60-member umbrella group drawn from civilian activists and rebel fighters inside Syria as well as the exiles who have dominated the SNC.


The SNC's repeated postponement of its response to the plan has drawn strong criticism from other opposition groups taking part in the unity talks.


"The SNC's requests for delays are a bad thing they want to take over everything and the only thing that matters to them is who forms the leadership while our number one concern ought to be the bloodshed," one dissident, Haytham Maleh, told AFP.


Other factions went ahead with a planned meeting without the SNC on Friday evening in frustration at a second request for a postponement.


Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2012


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