Syrians vote in election to give Assad new mandate

The vote is the second presidential election since the Syrian Civil War began 10 years ago.

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Syrians in government-controlled areas of the war-torn country went to the polls early Wednesday to vote in presidential elections that are set to give Bashar al-Assad a fourth seven-year term.

This vote is the second presidential election since the conflict began in the country 10 years ago, and has been rejected by the opposition and Western countries as a hoax. Two other candidates are vying for the highest office in the country, which has been held by members of the Assad family for five decades.

They are little-known figures, Abdullah Salloum Abdullah and Mahmoud Ahmad Marie. However, competition with Assad is primarily seen as symbolic.

Starting at 7 a.m., thousands began arriving at polls in Damascus, where streets were decorated with giant Assad posters and banners praising his rule. Few posters of the two other candidates appeared in the streets.

No vote will take place in northeast Syria, which is controlled by US-backed YPG/PKK terrorists, or in the northwestern province of Idlib.

However, in some parts of government-controlled areas, including the southern provinces of Daraa and Sweida, many rejected the vote calling it “illegitimate.”

The Syrian Democratic Council that runs daily affairs in northeast Syria said in a statement that it would not take part in the vote “before political solutions are implemented in accordance with UN Security Council resolutions, the release of detainees is conducted, return of displaced people take place and the basis for a political structure far away from tyranny are put forth.”

On Sunday, Prime Minister Hussein Arnous traveled to Sweida along with a dozen cabinet ministers in the first such visit in years to meet local officials. There has reportedly been widespread anger against the vote and overspending on pro-Assad campaigns in the city when many residents of the area were living in poverty.

This year’s vote comes at a time when the country’s economy is in a state of free fall as a result of Western sanctions, government corruption, internal fighting, and COVID-19.

The Biden administration has said it will not recognize the result of the Syrian election unless the voting is free, fair, supervised by the United Nations and represents all of Syrian society.

“We are not involved in these elections in any way, and we, of course, have no mandate to be,” UN Secretary-General’s spokesperson Stephane Dujarric told reporters at the United Nations on Tuesday.

“We are, of course, aware that the elections are taking place. It is important to remind you in answering the question that these are being called under the auspices of the current constitution and not part of the political process that was established under Resolution 2254.”

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