Tu’mah, who was recently elected interim prime minister by members of the opposition Syrian National Coalition, began consultations long before he was appointed, according to member of the SNC, Adib Shishkali, who told Asharq Al-Awsat that “the man enjoys extensive relations with opposition personalities, parties and blocs, inside and outside the coalition, in addition to his relationship with activists inside Syria and with the local coordination committees, because he resides in Dayr Ezzour.”
Shishkali added that “opposition parties realize that they need to overcome the differences to bring about an executive body inside Syria which can provide for people’s needs.”
Shishkali expressed confidence that “Tu’mah would achieve the task of forming a government and will not repeat the experience of his predecessor Ghassan Hito because the political blocs in the coalition were not looking for quotas.”
Shishkali said he expected Tu’mah to select his ministers from inside Syria and to use the help of experts outside, stressing the “importance of the availability of financial and political backing for this government by Arab and international communities, to enable it to meet people’s needs.”
Meanwhile, head of the Syrian National Change Party, Ammar Al-Qurbi, told Asharq Al-Awsat that “Tu’mah will choose 12 ministers and he will take the foreign minister’s post because the political tasks of the coalition will be responsibility of this ministry.” He added that “the Ministry of Information has been excluded because we in the opposition see that this ministry’s task during the rule of the Ba’th Party was limiting freedom, and therefore, it will be replaced by a government spokesman.”
Qurbi, who is a close associate of Tu’mah, denied that the ministers will all be technocrats. He said “the service work which awaits the government means all ministers could not be technocrats, and it will include politicians and be representative of all Syrians, whether Islamists, left-wing or liberals, in addition to giving consideration to geographical distribution, which means [all] ministers cannot belong to one city.”
Qurbi said “there is great importance given to the interior and defense ministries because of their responsibilities which include security, policing, and administration of border crossings, as well as achieving peace in liberated areas.” He also pointed to the “great challenges which will face the ministries of justice, local administration and education.”
Tu’mah is expected to present his government to the coalition within a month for a vote of confidence.
In another development, a high-ranking UN official has warned that the number of Syrian refugees in need of urgent humanitarian assistance meant extra funds were needed to assist them.
During a conference in Kuwait on Tuesday, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Valerie Amos said “there are around seven million people who need urgent humanitarian aid, among them two million outside the borders and more than four million displaced inside the country.”
Amos said around seven million Syrian refugees were in need for urgent humanitarian aid, and around USD 4.4 billion will be needed for that purpose this year, while the organization had so far been pledged less than USD 2 billion.