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Syrian opposition coalition elects new president

Source: Reuters - Wed, 9 Jul 2014 02:46 GMT
Author: Reuters
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BEIRUT, July 9 (Reuters) - Syria's Western-backed opposition National Coalition elected Hadi al-Bahra, chief negotiator at the Geneva peace talks, as its new president following a three-day meeting in Istanbul, the coalition said on Wednesday.

Bahra, a U.S-trained industrial engineer, will replace Ahmad Jarba, who has served the maximum two six-month terms. Like Jarba, Bahra has close ties to Saudi Arabia and has lived there.

"Hadi al-Bahra wins coalition presidency by 62 votes," a post on the Coalition's Facebook page said on Wednesday.

While designated as the main body representing the opposition by the United States and other key powers, the National Coalition has little power inside Syria where disparate militant groups outside its control hold ground.

Infighting within the opposition coalition has also undermined rebel efforts to take on forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, playing into the hands of rival, more hardline Islamist outfits that include foreign militants.

U.S.- and Russian-sponsored talks to end the three-year-old civil war stalled after two rounds in January and February, when the coalition and Assad's representatives failed to make substantive progress. (Reporting by Oliver Holmes in BEIRUT and Ahmed Tolba in CAIRO)

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