Throughout opposition-controlled areas in Aleppo province, citizens have formed a variety of ad hoc councils to manage their villages and neighborhoods in the absence of a central government, but the Grand Assembly is the first attempt to create a representative body that can begin to operate more like a traditional government body.
The new legislators were chosen in town hall style meetings by their communities. In areas still under control of the Assad army, representatives were selected from residents of these areas who had fled to opposition-controlled territory.
“We try to push them to choose the best and most qualified person to be the representative, not just the most popular,” says Shekary, who does not use his full name to protect his identity and serves as the media coordinator for the General Assembly.
Organizers say that with fighting still ongoing in Aleppo and reliable communication by telephone or Internet often impossible, a popular election to choose the 224 representatives would not have been feasible.
Seats apportioned by sacrifice
The number of representatives each district receives is proportional to both its population and level of participation in the revolution. The latter is determined by a matrix that uses measurements such as the number of residents killed in the uprising and the level of destruction the community experienced.
Responding to a question about whether giving less representation to those who did not participate as heavily in the revolution could appear as a punitive measure, Hakeem Halabi says this current council is meant to serve as a transitional revolutionary government, which, for the time being, is run by those who started the uprising.