Hundreds of Syrians protest against Assad's 'sham' election

Hundreds of Syrians protest against Assad's 'sham' election
3 min read
26 May, 2021
Hundreds of people in Syria have joined protests against presidential elections widely condemned as a 'sham', which longtime dictator Bashar al-Assad is almost certain to win.
Hundreds of people attended demonstrations in Idlib on Wednesday [Getty]

Syrian protesters have taken to the streets areas across many areas of the country in opposition to presidential elections held by the regime of President Bashar Al-Assad.

The elections have been described as "fake" by Syrian opposition groups as well as much of the international community.

In the opposition-held province of Idlib, hundreds of people protested against the elections, carrying the Syrian opposition flag.

Journalist Mustafa Dahnon posted a video on Twitter from an Idlib protest, which he described as "huge". He said that protesters had showed up to say that "there's no future for Syria if the illegal regime remains in power".

The Syrian National Coalition of Revolutionary and Opposition Forces described the poll as a "theatrical play" and announced on Twitter that its secretary-general, Abdul-Bassit Abdul Latif attended a demonstration at a university in Azaz in northern Syria.

Hundreds of people also protested against the elections in the province of Daraa, which has been restive ever since being captured by the regime in 2018.

Many people have been on strike in the province since Tuesday, in protest against the elections. 

Step News Agency reported that in Daraa city itself, a Syrian opposition flag was placed atop the Omari Mosque, accompanied by a banner reading "There is no future for Syrians with the killer", in reference to President Assad.

More than 500,000 people have been killed in the Syrian conflict, which broke out in 2011 after the Assad regime brutally suppressed pro-democracy protests.

Several regime buildings and bases in Daraa have been attacked in recent days with bombs and firearms.

On Twitter, activists shared posts with the hashtag "no legitimacy to Assad and his elections" in Arabic, which is also a popular refrain on the ground.

The US and EU said in a joint statement on Tuesday that the elections "will neither be free nor fair".

Previous presidential elections in Syria, held under the control of the regime, have not been monitored independently and yielded improbably majorities for Assad.

"This fraudulent election does not represent any progress towards a political settlement," the statement added.

Bashar al-Assad has been in power in Syria since 2000, succeeding his father Hafez when the latter died that year. No members of the exiled opposition have been allowed to run in the election, with the two candidates he faces being little-known figures. 

Assad cast his vote on Wednesday in the city of Douma, a former opposition stronghold which saw horrific chemical attacks by the regime over the course of the Syrian conflict.

He said that the opinions of the US and the EU "have zero value", as dozens of his supporters chanted, "With our blood and with our souls, we sacrifice our lives for you, Bashar."

In parts of Syria outside regime control, people will not be able to vote in the election, nor will Syrians in countries hosting large refugee communities, such as Turkey and Germany.