Syrian President Bashar al Assad came early Wednesday to cast his vote in the presidential election in the country where, after more than ten years of war, he is the main favorite in the absence of strong opposition and its elimination through the existing legal filters.
Al Assad has voted with his wife Asma al Assad in the city of Duma near the capital Damascus, according to the Syrian state news agency SANA, which also published photos at the time of the vote.
Both the president and first lady appear to be surrounded by people and masked off weeks after the presidency announced that they had both recovered from COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus.
Abdulá Salum Abdulá from the Socialist Unionist Party (SUP) and another of the three candidates in the running also came to the vote, in his case at the electoral college opened in parliament. The third candidate is Mahmoud Ahmad Marai of the Democratic Arab Socialist Union (DASU), an opposition party authorized by Damascus.
Likewise, Mujles Qaisiya, a member of the High Judiciary Committee for Elections, has stressed that polling stations open their doors at 7:00 am (local time) and pointed to a “high turnout” in all provinces of the country.
For his part, Syrian Information Minister Imad Sará stressed the participation of the population in the elections, adding that the Syrians “have raised their voices in the face of the failure of attempts to influence their will and beliefs”.
It has denounced “attempts to intimidate, deceive, and starve them through terrorism and economic coercion,” among which has stood out the so-called “Caesar Law,” a series of sanctions the United States imposed on Damascus last year .
The elections will not be held in areas not under the control of the army, mainly Idlib Province (northwest), in the hands of a number of rebel groups – including Hayat Tahrir al Sham (HTS) – and northeastern Syria, under the Control of the Kurdish autonomous administration.
In this regard, the Kurdish authorities have refused to vote in these areas of Rojava – Syrian Kurdistan – because they are conducting their own political processes despite having authorized them to take place in areas under the control of the security forces in that area.
Al Assad has presented himself as the only qualified candidate for the leadership of the country and has promised to work to improve the economic situation affected by the war and crisis and to start various reconstruction projects.
The National Coalition for the Forces of the Opposition and the Syrian Revolution (CNFORS) – the main opposition coalition abroad – has for its part defended that the elections are “a sham” and influenced that “the Al Assad regime has lost its legitimacy” Adopt a military solution to the people’s revolution. “
The organization’s president, Nasr al Hariri, has also accused Damascus of “postponing” the process of peace talks in Geneva, denouncing that “it is clear that the regime is struggling to legitimize its existence, which it allows with aid. ” of their support to remain in power and break off the negotiating path. “
For example, he referred to the process of talks that began in 2019, which aims to pave the way for political reform and the holding of free and fair elections under the supervision of the United Nations in Syria, as well as drafting a new Magna Carta or amending the Constitution. 2012.
The UN special envoy for Syria, Geir Pedersen, recalled in early May that “the elections were held under the auspices of the current constitution and are not part of the political process established by resolution 2254”. “The UN is not involved in these elections and has no mandate to do so,” he said.
Despite all this, Al Assad trusts that Russia and Iran, his main supporters, can maintain their support and thus remain in power, which he has held since he succeeded his father Hafez al Assad in 2000 after his death after the occupation the presidency since 1971 in a “monarchical” transfer of power.