Bashar al-Assad elected president of Syria for the fourth time

The outgoing leader triumphed with 95.1% of the votes. Rivals Abdallah Salloum Abdallah and Mahmoud Mareï won 1.5% and 3.3% of the votes. The turnout figure is around 76%. Elections only held in the areas controlled by Damascus. In the province of Idlib, in the hands of the rebels, large protests. For the West, the vote was "neither free nor fair".

Damascus (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Bashar al-Assad triumphed in the presidential elections held on May 26 and was re-elected for a fourth consecutive term - lasting seven years - at the helm of Syria with 95.1% of votes.

The vote has been branded a farce and illegitimate by dissidents in exile and the West in which the other two candidates admitted, former minister Abdallah Salloum Abdallah and the opponent "tolerated" by the Mahmoud Mareï regime, obtained respectively 1.5% and 3.3% of the votes.

In a nation that still bears the scars of the war that began in 2011 - and which has not yet ended, with outbreaks of violence and portions of territory still in the hands of the rebels such as the province of Idlib - at least 14.2 million people (out of 18.1 in total) participated in the ballot. According to the President of Parliament, the final figure for turnout is around 76%.

The electoral round affected the areas controlled by the government of Damascus, equal to two thirds of the total territory, and in the Syrian embassies abroad where the vote was held on 20 May. An incident occurred in neighbouring Lebanon when a group of Syrian citizens was ambushed on their way to the diplomatic mission to vote.

In 2014, the first presidential elections in wartime, 55-year-old Assad had won his third term with 88% of the vote. Even today, as then, Western governments have defined the elections as "neither free nor fair" while the opposition abroad speaks of a "farce".

In a joint note, the foreign ministers of France, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom and the United States deem it "illegitimate", stressing that UN supervision has been lacking. Immediate reply from the leader of Damascus, according to which the opinion of the West "is worth zero".

A large protest against the presidential elections was held in the province of Idlib, controlled by rebel and jihadist groups, simultaneously with the voting operations. Criticism also from the opposition which, from abroad, negotiates with the emissaries of the Syrian government under the aegis of the United Nations to agree on a democratic transition process (including the writing of a new Constitution) for a full and complete pacification of the country.

For Yahya al-Aridi, spokesman for the Syrian negotiating commission, Assad showed "contempt for the people". He accuses the government "aided by Russia and Iran" of wanting to "kill the political process" and perpetrate a climate of "tyranny".