November 10, 2012 / 12:05 AM / 5 years ago

Syria council member quits, says changes fall short

DOHA (Reuters) - A founder of the Syrian National Council (SNC) resigned on Friday, saying the opposition group had failed to reform and had even removed women from senior positions at a meeting in Qatar where restructuring was supposed to take place.

Businessman Adib al-Shishakly, grandson of a late Syrian president, said the main overseas opposition in the 20-month-old Syrian uprising “has failed to become an institution” and a newly elected 41-member general assembly was dominated by Islamists.

The SNC, which has come in for criticism from international allies for being ineffective and riven by personal disputes, said it had enlarged its membership and become more inclusive at the meeting in the Qatari capital of opponents of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

“The Council has not managed to attract prominent opposition figures who have for obvious reasons remained outside it,” Shishakly said in a statement critical of what had been accomplished at Doha.

“A younger generation effective in the revolution was also excluded. Few women were in the general assembly, there are none now,” the statement added.

An SNC source said two other members also had resigned over the absence of women from senior positions.

Qatar, which has bankrolled the opposition to Assad and played a leading role in Arab diplomacy against him, hosted the opposition meeting, with senior U.S. diplomats hovering on the sidelines, prodding the opposition to make a deal.

The SNC elected on Friday veteran opposition figure George Sabra, a Christian, as its head during the Doha meeting.

The organization will start talks on Saturday with other factions including representatives of rebel groups inside Syria on forming a new, Western backed wider body that hopes to gain international recognition and set up a government-in-waiting.

Writing by Khaled Yacoub Oweis, additional reporting by Rania El Gamal; Editing by Michael Roddy

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