Dissident dentist Ahmad Tomeh named Syrian opposition interim PM

PUBLISHED : Monday, 16 September, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 16 September, 2013, 4:47am


The main Syrian opposition coalition has elected Ahmad Tomeh, a 48-year-old dentist and dissident, its provisional prime minister, the group's latest effort to improve its standing inside the country and attract greater support from foreign nations.

Tomeh, who ran unopposed, is said to be a consensus candidate accepted by a secular-leaning coalition within the group and the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood. He replaces Ghassan Hitto, a Syrian-American businessman who failed to name a cabinet and resigned in July, reportedly after one of the coalition's main supporters, Saudi Arabia, signalled its displeasure with him.

With its shifting constellation of leaders, the coalition, known as the Syrian National Council, has cemented a reputation for infighting and is disparaged by many Syrians as an exile movement beholden to foreign supporters. While the group has gained international recognition, its leaders complain that it receives insufficient support.

Tomeh, who comes from the eastern province of Deir al-Zor, spent time in jail as a political prisoner and was one of the signers of the Damascus Declaration in 2005, which demanded reforms from the government of President Bashar al-Assad.