Western powers slam Assad's 'farce' Syria election
The Assad regime claimed it had obtained 95 percent of the ballots cast on May 26, securing a fourth term in office and an extension of the family rule that has dominated Syrian politics since 1971.
The United States, the European Union and Turkey did not recognise the vote’s outcome, which they described as a "farce," and have called for constitutional reform in line with UN demands.
The UN's special envoy to Syria, Geir Pederson, said on Wednesday that "free and fair elections" should be held with a new constitution and held under the supervision of the United Nations.
#Syria: elections on 26 May met none of the criteria of genuinely democratic vote & do not contribute to settlement of the conflict. They can only be credible if all Syrians are able to participate.— Josep Borrell Fontelles (@JosepBorrellF) May 27, 2021
Repression must end, the Syrian regime must engage in a genuine political process https://t.co/rp4Wsqddmv
EU High Representative Josep Borrell said the "elections undermine efforts to find a sustainable solution to the Syrian conflict."
In a statement, Borrell called for a "fully inclusive" political process to ensure "that all segments of Syria's society are involved in shaping the country's future unity and reconciliation."
Ankara, which hosts over 6.5 million Syrian refugees, and Europe have not allowed remote voting to take place on their turf.
Germany, France, Britain, Italy and the United States have issued a joint statement, calling for "al-Assad not to be allowed to remain in power."
The Syrian president, who held on to power when an uprising against its rule plunged the country into conflict 10 years ago, said criticism of his re-election had "zero value" as he cast his ballot in a Damascus suburb.
Assad cast his vote in Douma city in the rural area of Damascus, the site of a regime chemical attack which left hundreds dead.
Russia, which has been a staunch supporter of Assad throughout the war, was among a few countries to defend the outcome.
"Voting in Syria conforms to the constitution and current legislation, and it does not contradict international resolutions," Dmitry Poliansky, Russia's deputy representative to the UN, said.
The election takes place amid Syria's lowest levels of violence since 2011, but with an economy in free-fall and under ongoing dictatorial rule.