Syria Calls Presidential Elections for June 3

إقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية W460

Syria said Monday it will hold a presidential election expected to return President Bashar Assad to office on June 3, despite a civil war that has killed tens of thousands.

Underlining the ongoing violence in the country, mortar fire hit near the parliament building shortly before the election date was announced, killing two people.

Syria's first presidential election -- after constitutional amendments did away with the old referendum system -- will be held amid violence that has killed 150,000 people since March 2011, according to one monitoring group.

Parliament speaker Mohammed al-Lahham announced the election date at a special session, saying Syrians living outside the country would vote May 28 and candidates would be able to register to run from Tuesday until May 1.

Lahham said voting would be "free and fair... and under full judicial supervision."

He urged Syrians "to give voice to their will through the ballot box and participate in the democratic process by electing whoever they think is most able to lead Syria to victory."

"We are confident that you will grant your support... to whoever is worthy of leading and defending Syria, protecting its sovereignty and principles and ensuring a safer future where all Syrians enjoy their rights without distinction," he added. 

Assad, who became president after his father Hafez died in 2000 and whose current term ends on July 17, is widely expected to run and win another seven-year term in office despite the conflict.

New election rules require candidates to have lived in Syria for the past decade, effectively preventing key opposition figures in exile from standing for office.

The opposition has criticized plans to hold a presidential election and insists Assad should step down and have no role in Syria's future.

Much of the international community has also warned Syria against holding the vote, with U.N.-Arab League peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi saying it could close the door to any peace negotiations.

It remains unclear how Syria's government will organize an election under the current circumstances, with swathes of the country out of its control and nearly half the population displaced.

Syria's conflict began with peaceful protests demanding democratic reform but soon escalated into a civil war after the government launched a massive crackdown on dissent.

Violence continues in many parts of the country, even reaching into the heart of the capital, which has regularly come under mortar fire from opposition fighters on the outskirts.

A security official said mortar fire in Damascus was expected to increase during the electoral period.

"They will increase the fire this month to try to undermine the election," he said, referring to opposition fighters.

Syria specialist Fabrice Balanche said the government could only stage the election on 40 percent of the country's territory.

"The election can only be held in the government-held areas, a band of territory stretching from the Jordan border, through Damascus, Hama and Homs," as well as Idlib city, Jisr al-Shughur, half of Aleppo and half of Deir Ezzor, he told Agence France Presse.

Opposition member Samir Nashar, who spoke from neighboring Turkey, described the election as "a mere continuation of (Syria's) past."

"For 50 years, from 1963 (when the ruling Baath party came to power) to date, there have been no transparent elections," Nashar told AFP.

"I don't think that anyone would believe that these elections can really express the will of the Syrian people, considering all this destruction and forced displacement... What elections are we talking about? What about democracy?"

An activist in Daraya, near Damascus, described the announcement as a new sign of military escalation in the conflict.

"Things are going towards escalation, and we haven't yet reached the point where either side is exhausted, and where they would genuinely want a political solution," Amjad Abbar told AFP via the Internet.

On the ground, regime forces were on the offensive in the central city of Homs, where the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said clashes were continuing in the districts of Bab Hud and Juret al-Shiyah.

Both rebel-held neighborhoods have been under government siege for nearly two years.

In the northern city of Aleppo, meanwhile, activists said regime aircraft dropped explosives-packed barrel bombs on several districts, a day after 52 civilians were killed in air raids across the province of the same name.

Comments 16
Missing coolmec 21 April 2014, 13:16

Better yet ya Mystic
Bachar you stay out and allow democratic Syrians to participate in Syrian politics

Missing coolmec 21 April 2014, 19:06

answering your question NO I do no think that the rebels will do better than bashar that is why I said let the democratic Syrians participate meaning neither him nor the rebels

Thumb ex-fpm 21 April 2014, 13:24

I did not know iranians speak for the syrian people and know their aspirations

Thumb Mystic 21 April 2014, 13:41

Well i'm not Iranian, you make it sound like it's a bad thing. Even so they are 10 times better than you slave handling Americans. Stay out of Syrian affairs, and let them vote for themselves.

Thumb Mystic 21 April 2014, 13:42

American 'freedom' isn't so free, since you always interfeer and bomb other foreign nations.

Default-user-icon J3an (Guest) 21 April 2014, 14:15

Says the person who supports a president that drops barrel bombs on whole cities of his own people. I hoped this election would arrive to a conclusion of the fighting, but it is difficult to foresee anything but the obvious. Now don't give me that takfiri BS

Missing peace 21 April 2014, 15:08

Wonder why they hold elections as the resuts have been known for decades now... always the assads that win LOL

Thumb Chupachups 21 April 2014, 15:18

How can u be so ignorant!! They must hold elections to see if Assad will get 95% or 99% of votes! Duhhhh

Missing mohammad_ca 21 April 2014, 18:34

what stone do you live under? do you think these will actually be free and fair elections? lol

Missing mohammad_ca 21 April 2014, 18:35

democracy under ASSad? lol

Missing hajjradwan 21 April 2014, 18:37

Almost half the Syrian population is in refugee camps outside the Syrian borders or displaced within the border but what the hell I'm pretty sure Bashar will be reelected by the usual proportions ie north of 90% of the total Syrian population. This has always been the case under the Baath rule, vote, don't vote don't matter son, your vote will still be counted in an orderly manner for Bashar as it used to be for Hafez.

Missing coolmec 21 April 2014, 19:14

I bet Bashar will get 99.99% of the votes. he has to show an improvement over his last

Missing coolmec 21 April 2014, 20:08

speak freely
even during peacetime the Syrian elections were rigged and were a façade let alone now

Default-user-icon The Truth (Guest) 22 April 2014, 00:20

An election where half the people are dead, in other countries or away from being able to vote in government controlled areas. What a fair election this is.

Missing VINCENT 22 April 2014, 00:32

Ghawar El-Toshi for President! Needless to say, the West/U.S. lost in Syria as the "true" rebellion was short lived and was a precursor for the planned hijacking of the peoples' noble grievances by Muslin Extremists idiots. Don't care for Syria's constant grip of Lebanon by the throat for her geopolitical interests, but when the noble rebellion changed its colors and these cannibals were financed and rushed to Syria by the neighboring Gulf Countries, neither I nor any descent human being whether Muslim, Christian, Sun Worshiper, would want to see these cannibals win, live on Earth and breath the same air as I do. You screwed up!

Missing coolmec 22 April 2014, 08:50

peace maybe in 20 years but freedom? they never had it under the Assad's rule that would be 40 + years