Polls open in Syrian elections with Assad's victory assured
The outgoing president, in power since 2000, is looking for a fourth term. The only two rival candidates admitted by the electoral commission are almost unknown. Opposition abroad excluded from the vote. Polls open until 7 pm, there are 12 thousand seats scattered throughout the country. There is no vote in the Kurdish area and in Idlib, in the hands of the rebels.
Damascus (AsiaNews / Agencies) - This morning polls opened in the territories of Syria under government control - the majority, with the exception of some small and residual pockets - for the presidential elections.
The outgoing leader, Bashar al-Assad is almost assured of a fourth term in which he is called to revive the fortunes of a nation and a people starved for over 10 years by war and sanctions.
As expected, voting began at 7 am. From the very beginning, state television broadcast images of long lines in polling stations around the country, with the aim of showing popular and massive participation in the electoral review branded as a farce by the West.
Voters will be able to express their preferences in one of the 12 thousand seats by 7 am local time this evening, but an extension of the time is not excluded. According to reports from the Electoral Commission, the results will be made official within 48 hours of the closing of the voting operations.
The autonomous Kurdish regions in the north-east and the last major stronghold in the hands of jihadists and rebels, the province of Idlib in the north-west with its three million inhabitants are excluded from the vote.
The presidential election comes at a time of relative calm and little fighting on the ground. However, the national economy is at an all-time low and the infrastructure is in complete ruin. In power since 2000, outgoing president Bashar al-Assad, 55, is already confident of victory.
Out of dozens of nominations - including several women, in a first ever - the commission admitted only two almost unknown challengers to the final vote: former minister and parliamentarian Abdallah Salloum Abdallah and a member of the so-called "opposition" tolerated by the regime, Mahmoud Mareï.
The electoral law requires candidates to have lived in Syria for the past 10 years before the vote, effectively excluding most of the anti-Assad opposition and dissidents living abroad, in exile. For this reason, they consider the vote a farce aimed only at legitimizing the leadership in power.
The United States and the European Union have already condemned the vote and the results, which take place in a context that is still marked by conflicts and violence. Over 10 years of war have caused almost 400,000 victims and millions of refugees and internally displaced persons.