The opposition Syrian National Coalition has elected a new provisional prime minister, entrusting him with the task of restoring order to areas no longer controlled by President Bashar al-Assad.
The coalition elected Ahmad Tumeh, 48, on Saturday, with hopes he will boost the opposition’s credibility as international efforts are increased to restart a peace process to end the country’s civil war.
Tumeh, a former political prisoner from the eastern province of Deir al-Zor and a dentist by training, won 75 votes out of 97 cast in a coalition ballot in Istanbul, sources told the Reuters news agency.
He replaces Ghassan Hitto, who resigned in July after just four months in the job without managing to form an opposition cabinet from among the fractious group.
Tumeh, described as a moderate Islamist, is expected to choose a cabinet of 13 ministers in a deal reached after two days of talks between power brokers in the Arab and Western-backed coalition.
“The priority of my government will be to restore stability in the liberated areas, improve their living conditions and provide security,” Tumeh said after the election.
The National Coalition in July elected as its president Ahmad al-Jarba, a tribal chief and veteran dissident who fled abroad in August 2012 after being released from a second stint in the Syrian government’s jails.