AMMAN (Reuters) - The main Syrian National Coalition opposition organisation will meet in Istanbul next week to elect a provisional prime minister, coalition members said on Thursday.
The decision was made after former Prime Minister Riad Hijab, the highest ranking civilian defector since the revolt and the top candidate for the job, withdrew his candidacy, several coalition members told Reuters in Amman. Hijab had run into opposition from Islamists and liberal members of the coalition for his previous ties with Syria's ruling hierarchy.
"We'll meet on the 12th and 13th in Istanbul this month. The field of candidates has been expanding since Hijab withdrew," said one of the coalition members. He added that withdrawal of Hijab's name contributed to the postponement of a coalition meeting that was due to convene on Saturday.
A statement issued by Hijab's office said he had informed coalition president Moaz al-Khatib after talks in Cairo last month that he "regrets not being able take part in the provisional government the coalition is working on forming".
The sources said the Syrian National Council, a large bloc within the 71-member coalition largely influenced by the powerful Muslim Brotherhood, has chosen three candidates for the position of prime minister.
They are Salem al-Muslet, a tribal figure from northeastern Syria who worked at think-tanks in the Gulf, Osama al-Qadi, a U.S. educated economist who heads an opposition taskforce drawing plans for economic recovery in a post-Assad era, and veteran opposition campaigner Burhan Ghalioun, a respected professor from the city of Homs and a previous president of the Syrian National Council.
Reporting by Khaled Yacoub Oweis, Amman newsroom; Editing by Jon Hemming