06/02/2014, 00.00
SYRIA
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Election will strengthen Assad’s hold on power. Opposition: A farce

Because of the war, only 60% of the population can vote in 40% of Syrian territory under the army’s control. Assad 's victory a foregone conclusion. Candidates in exile excluded from running (political refugees). Syrian refugees in Lebanon and Jordan will vote. Those in Belgium , Germany, France do not have permission to vote . Observers from Iran, Russia and other 5 countries will monitor the democratic progress of elections.

Damascus (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The Syrian population is set to vote in presidential elections tomorrow , where it the victory of Bashar Assad is a foregone conclusion. The opposition have declared the elections as "a farce" and are pushing for a boycott.

Yesterday, the Baath party - which has been in power for over 50 years -, urged people to vote for Assad. Bashar has been Syria's President since 2000, after the death of his father Hafez . After a few timid attempts at political reform undertaken in the first year, Assad returned to the dictatorial style that had characterized his father's reign. The Arab Spring three years ago and the first riots forced him to make some constitutional reforms and opening up to a multi-party system . These elections are the apparent deference to the new reforms . But in the meantime, the Arab Spring has evolved into a civil and regional war, that has claimed 160 thousand lives and millions of displaced persons or refugees.

This is why the opposition accuses Assad of wanting an "election of blood" and calls for a boycott against this "sham" or " parody " , since opposition candidates are also excluded. In fact, Syrian candidates resident abroad (all political exiles ) are excluded.

In addition to Assad there are two other candidates : the parliamentary Maher al- Hajjar and businessman Hassan al- Nouri , but neither have the strength to compete with Bashar Assad.

The Baath Party proclaim that Assad is only choice because he " faces the war... has stayed at the side of his people in all corners of the homeland".

In fact, not all the "corners of the country" can vote : elections are being held during a war and some areas like Aleppo , south of Damascus, Raqa, the regions north and east cannot vote because under the opposition.

Experts  estimate that the vote will take place only in 40% of Syrian territory , home to 60 % of the population .

Syria is trying to give the many refugees abroad access to cast their vote. This is the case in Lebanon and Jordan , with a low percentage compared to the total number of refugees ( 200 thousand on over 2 million), but it was not possible in other Arab countries, in Turkey , Belgium, France, Germany, who in their support for the opposition have sided with its boycott of the elections.

In an attempt to give a democratic appearance to the polls, tomorrow representatives from seven countries will monitor the voting process . Among these are the allies of Damascus, Iran and Russia , along with Lebanon , Uganda , Zimbabwe, Bolivia , Venezuela, Tajikistan and the Philippines.

Even with all the limitations, observers are convinced that the elections will give a great support to Assad and his policy of defeating the opposition through war.

On the other hand , the opposition itself has slipped deeper into an internal conflict between secularists and Islamists , with radical Islamist groups fighting among themselves and tainting the oppositions cause with episodes of violence and heinous crimes such as executions , the persecution of Christians, the murder of children and elderly.

 

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