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Syrian opposition PM plays down failure to elect ministers - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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The prime minister of the Syrian opposition’s interim government, Ahmed Tu'mah, speaks at a Syrian National Coalition meeting ahead of his election to the post on September 14, 2013 (AFP Photo)

The prime minister of the Syrian opposition’s interim government, Ahmed Tu’mah, speaks at a Syrian National Coalition meeting ahead of his election to the post on September 14, 2013 (AFP Photo)

Beirut, Asharq Al-Awsat—Disputes within the Syrian National Coalition, Syria’s umbrella opposition group, will not affect the work of its Istanbul-based interim government, opposition Prime Minister Ahmad Tu’mah told Asharq Al-Awsat.

Tu’mah submitted the new interim government line-up during the Coalition’s general authority meeting on Sunday amid a boycott by the Syrian National Democratic bloc and several Kurdish members.

Only seven cabinet members managed to secure a majority vote, including Minister of Defense Salim Idriss, Minister of Interior Awad Ahmad Ali and Minister of Health Mohamed Wajih Juma’a.

The remaining candidates are still waiting for the decision of the Coalition’s legal committee, which is due to convene next week.

Tu’mah said that disputes within the Syrian National Coalition are unlikely to affect the performance of the government, maintaining that the seven approved ministers have already taken up their posts.

“The government is the executive arm for the Coalition. Therefore, it is not concerned with the internal disputes and will participate in the emergency session set for next week to resolve the issue of the candidates whose membership [in the government] has not been confirmed yet,” he said.

The new ministers have been briefed about the government’s priorities which include alleviating the suffering of the Syrian people and implementing aid programs in the war-torn country, according to the moderate Islamist prime minister.

He called for the creation of safe zones to allow the opposition government freedom of movement in Syria.

For the interim government to operate in Syria, it needs “a firm international stance that leads to the creation of safe zones to help the government to carry out its tasks,” Tu’mah told Asharq Al-Awsat.

The Syrian opposition prime minister also revealed that the interim government is considering taking “steps to embark on operating inside [Syria,]” and that it is in the process of coordinating with its local representatives to set up bases on Syrian territory.

On Sunday, president of the Coalition Hadi Al-Bahra issued a resolution voiding the results of the vote on the government line-up.

The step has garnered significant controversy with some members claiming that it violated the coalition’s rules of procedure.

“[Legally speaking,] nobody, no matter how senior they are, and even if they are the head of the coalition, have the right to cancel a decision taken by the general authority, the Coalition’s highest authority,” a member of the Coalition’s legal committee Hisham Marwah told Asharq Al-Awsat.