Friday, June 6, 2014
Assad re-elected for new seven year term
Bashar's face in a street in Damascus (AFP).
Update. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has won a landslide victory in presidential poll securing 88.7 percent of the vote. The two other candidates, Hassan al-Nouri and Maher Hajjar, won 4.3 percent and 3.2 percent respectively. The victory gives Assad a third seven-year term in office despite a raging civil war which grew out of protests against his rule. The head of the Supreme Constitutional Court said on Wednesday that the turnout in the country's presidential election this week was 73.42 percent.
Syria went to the polls on Tuesday to cast a vote for the presidency. There were three candidates, but nobody doubted for a second that there could only one winner: the imcumbent president, Bashar al-Assad. Assad, 48 years old, has been in power for 14 years, since he succeeded his father, Hafez al-Assad who had ruled Syria since 1970. Bashar had been chosen for the job, after his elder brother Basil, who initially was to follow in his father's footsteps, died in a car accident in 1994.
The elections take place against the background of a civil war that has cost the lives of at least 150.000 Syrians and has caused that some 9 million people, a third of the population fled their houses and either left Syria or stayed in Syria as internal refugees. As a consequence of the war also large sections of the country are unable to vote. Parts of the north and the east of the country, sections that are under the command of the opposition, don't take part.
The election will no doubt be used by Assad as a means to be able to claim a certain legitimacy. For him the uprising is mainly portrayed as part of a conspiracy guided by the country's enemies to forcefully change its political alliances and the rebels are portrayed as criminals.
The opposition, which boycotts the elections, has no say at all. In March 2014, the Syrian parliament approved a new General Elections Law. Article 30 of the new law decreed that presidential candidates must have resided continuously in the country for no less than 10 years prior to running, and that effectively banned all historical opposition members who have been in exile. Article 39 states that a presidential candidate must not have been convicted of a disreputable crime, without clarifying what a disreputable crime would be. And finally, Article 85 stipulates that candidates must obtain a written endorsement of at least 35 of the Syrian parliament’s 250 members mainly dominated by the Ba'ath party headed by Assad.