ISTANBUL: Syria’s opposition will not enter into dialogue with the regime of President Bashar Assad, the country’s newly elected opposition premier said yesterday in his inaugural speech.
“We confirm to the great Syrian people that there will be no dialogue with the Assad regime,” Ghassan Hitto said. Hitto was chosen early yesterday by a majority of the main opposition National Coalition members, after hours of closed-door consultations.
The 50-year-old will be tasked with setting up an interim government which would be based in opposition-held territory in Syria.
The election comes some two months after Coalition chief Ahmad Moaz Al-Khatib proposed talks with regime officials with conditions, including that some “160,000 detainees” be released.
Several Coalition members told AFP the election of an interim premier and the establishment of a government canceled out the possibility of talks with the regime.
“The regime ended that proposal (for talks), not the opposition. The idea behind the proposal was to relieve the Syrian people’s pain,” Coalition chief Khatib told AFP.
“The proposal for talks ended before we elected an interim prime minister,” he added.
In a speech laying out the new government’s priorities, Hitto called the regime “a gang” that “destroyed the country.”
“The main priority we have before us is to make use of all tools at our disposal to bring down the Assad regime,” said Hitto, while pledging to offer “all possible assistance” to residents living in areas free from army control.
“We promise that we will face the challenges together,” said Hitto, a former IT executive who spent years living in the United States.
“The aim of this government will not be based on political interests. We will choose its ministers and advisers based on their technical and professional capacity,” he added.