Istanbul: The Syrian National Coalition (SNC), the country`s main opposition umbrella in exile, elected Hadi al-Bahra Wednesday as its new leader.
Hadi al-Bahra was elected president of the coalition after three days of intense negotiations in the small Black Sea resort of Sile close to Istanbul, Xinhua reported citing the coalition`s Facebook page.
Al-Bahra was born in Damascus in 1959. He spent most of his life in Saudi Arabia doing business and managing hospitals. As chief negotiator, Bahra led the opposition parties in peace talks with the Syrian government in Geneva in February.
The talks, sponsored by the US and Russia to end the three-year-old civil war, were stalled after two rounds in January and February as the coalition and Assad`s representatives failed to deliver substantive progress.
The SNC was founded in Doha, Qatar, in 2012, and it soon moved its base to Istanbul. In September 2013, the coalition elected Ahmad Tu`mah as the prime minister of the interim government in exile.
However, weeks after the election, the armed Islamist groups fighting inside Syria against the government of President Bashar al-Assad claimed they did not recognise the coalition, saying that all groups formed abroad without having returned to the country did not represent them.
The new leader now faces a major task of reuniting the much-divided opposition parties, and getting more Western military support for moderate rebels fighting in the civil-war-torn country in a bid to topple President Assad.