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Defected Syria PM 'could become opposition president'

Published on Jan 6, 2014 12:10 AM

BEIRUT (AFP) - A Syrian former premier who defected from President Bashar al-Assad's regime in 2012 is a frontrunner to head the main opposition National Coalition, a dissident told AFP Sunday.

"Riad Hijab and (current coalition chief) Ahmad Jarba are the two candidates for the presidency," coalition member and veteran dissident Samir Nashar said.

"The election is about to take place," he added, speaking to AFP by telephone from Istanbul.

Mr Hijab, the highest-ranking defector so far, abandoned Assad a year and a half into the revolt demanding the fall of his regime, fleeing via Jordan. He comes from the eastern province of Deir Ezzor, much of which has been destroyed in nearly three years of all-out war.

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