The new head of the Syrian opposition-in-exile group is a member of the country’s Turkmen community who was detained twice by the authorities in the early 1980s.
Khaled Khoja was active in the early stages of the country’s uprising and was a founding member of the Syrian National Council, a key component of the Coalition.
Born in Damascus in 1965, he served as the Coalition’s representative in Turkey before being elected president. Khoja is not the youngest of the Coalition’s four presidents, although his boyish looks might hint otherwise – predecessor Ahmad Jarba is four years Khoja’s junior.
A biography distributed by the Coalition indicated that Khoja was briefly imprisoned twice by the Syrian authorities, in 1980 and 1981, which prompted him to leave the country. He completed his high school education in Libya and then settled in Turkey.
He graduated in medicine from the University of Izmir in 1994.
Khoja, a 49-year-old Damascus-born doctor and businessman, won 56 votes out of 106 votes cast at a closed meeting in Istanbul Sunday.
The Coalition’s new secretary-general is Yahya Maktabi, a native of Damascus who was born in 1967.
His biography, distributed by the Coalition, said Maktabi has 15 years’ experience in the private sector, in accounting and finance, and had earlier studied natural sciences at Damascus University. He also spent time at Imam Ouzai University in Lebanon, where he focused in religious studies.
Maktabi became involved early on in the uprising but was forced to leave the country in March 2012, it said. He is also a member of the Syrian National Council, which preceded the Coalition as the main opposition-in-exile grouping.
The 111-member body also two vice presidents, Nagham Ghadri, and Hisham Marwah.
The position of vice president reserved for a Kurdish member has yet to be filled, as the Kurdish bloc had not yet presented a new nominee, the National Coalition said.
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