Mohammad Ashraf Sehrai was on Monday elected chairman of the Tehreek-e-Hurriyat, replacing Syed Ali Shah Geelani.
Geelani held the post for 15 years since the party was formed following a split in the Hurriyat Conference in 2003.
Sehrai was elected chairman of the Tehreek-e-Hurriyat unanimously at a meeting of its executive committee after Geelani decided to step down.
Addressing the meeting, Geelani said due to his continuous house arrest for the past eight years, he had not been able to practically contribute to the cause, which was an “injustice” not only with the post but his conscience as well.
“So, I wilfully step-down from the chairmanship and advise the ‘shoora’ (council) to arrange an alternative at the earliest,” the hardliner said.
Geelani will, however, continue to head the hardline faction of the Hurriyat Conference of which Tehreek-e-Hurriyat is a constituent, sources said.
Political observers here believe that Sehrai will ultimately succeed 88-year-old Geelani as the head of the Hurriyat Conference as well.
A spokesman of the Tehreek-e-Hurriyat said Sehrai has been appointed as interim chairman of the party till organisational elections were held later this year.