* SNC sees transitional govt while Assad in power
* Says such a govt could include current ministers
* Critics say SNC divided, not fully representative
DUBAI, July 29 The head of the Syrian National
Council (SNC), the main umbrella group for opponents of
President Bashar al-Assad, said on Sunday that talks would be
held within weeks to form a transitional government that would
in time replace Assad's ministerial team.
Abdelbasset Sida, president of the SNC, said such a
government would run the country between Assad's ousting and
democratic elections. Most of its members would be drawn from
the opposition, but some members of the current Assad government
might also be included, he added.
"This government should come about before the fall (of
Assad) so that it presents itself as an alternative for the next
stage," Sida told Abu Dhabi-based Sky News Arabia television in
an interview broadcast on Sunday.
"The committees that we have set up have their own
schedules. Obviously, the matter should be concluded within
"There are some elements in the current regime who are not
bloodstained, who were not part of major corruption cases. We
will discuss (including them) with other parties, but there
should be a national consensus to accept them."
However, criticism about the SNC's legitimacy may complicate
its efforts to form a transitional government.
It clearly backs the Free Syrian Army, despite having not
always overtly supported it in the past.
But it has sometimes struggled to overcome internal
divisions and critics have accused the Istanbul-based
organisation of being out of touch, overly influenced by Turkey,
and not fully representative of the opposition.
INITIAL INVOLVEMENT OF TLAS RULED OUT
Visiting Abu Dhabi to meet United Arab Emirates officials,
Sida did not say when exactly a transitional government might be
formed, telling a news conference in the early hours of Sunday
that he had discussed the idea with Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed
al-Nahayan, UAE's foreign minister.
The SNC has set up two committees to discuss the idea; the
first will communicate with the Free Syrian Army, the major
rebel military group, while the second will deal with all other
opposition groups, said Sida.
Last week, Brigadier General Manaf Tlas, one of the most
senior defectors to flee Syria, said he would try to help unite
Syria's fragmented opposition inside and outside the country in
order to agree a roadmap for a power transfer.
Sida said he welcomed Tlas' defection, but said the general
could not be involved in the early stages of organising a
"The dialogue and coordination have to first be with the
Free Syrian Army and the various members of the Syrian
opposition movements, and after that if there are some roles to
be played by members who have defected, then so be it - but with
the condition that there is an agreement between the Syrians
Sida also ruled out the possibility of Tlas becoming head of
a transitional government. "This has to be a person who can lead
a national government and who has been committed to the
revolution since the beginning," he said.