Syria, seven women among the 51 candidates in the presidential elections
The deadline to present candidates for the May 26th vote closed yesterday. In order to run for election, each candidate must obtain the support of a member of parliament. France, the United States and the United Kingdom are already talking about sham elections. For Russia it is "inadmissible interference in internal affairs".
Members of parliament have expressed their preferences among those registered on the official lists, and those that obtain the support of at least 35 deputies - out of the 250 in total in the Chamber - will then be able to present themselves at the polls.
However, analysts and experts believe the confirmation of the outgoing leader Bashar al-Assad is a given in an election that the Western members of the UN Security Council (France, the United States and the United Kingdom) have rejected from the outset.
Next month's vote involves a country still marked by a decade-long bloody war that has caused almost 400,000 deaths and triggered a devastating economic, social and health crisis - exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic. The local currency, the Syrian pound, collapsed against the dollar, triggering a real explosion of inflation.
According to the official Sana news agency, "the process by which the parliamentarians approve the candidates for the presidential election has ended".
So far there is no scheduled date for the publication of the official list of presidential contenders, for an electoral round that many governments in the West consider a simulacrum of democracy.
The Damascus government has invited parliamentarians from allied nations including China, Iran, Russia, Venezuela and Cuba to "observe the electoral process" and certify its validity. This is the second vote since the war began in 2011 and the confirmation of the fourth term for Assad, who will have to face semi-unknown candidates, is a foregone conclusion.
Nicolas de Rivière, French ambassador to the UN, said that Paris "will not recognize any validity in the elections scheduled by the regime at the end of May", because there is no "international supervision" as required by United Nations resolution 2254. American counterpart Linda Thomas-Greenfield adds that "the failure to adopt a new Constitution is proof that the so-called May 26 elections will be a farce."
London diplomat at the UN Sonia Farrey speaks of "contempt for the Syrian people". Russian ambassador Vassily Nebenzia, instead states it is "distressing that some countries reject the very idea of these elections and have already declared [a priori] illegitimacy", showing "inadmissible interference in Syria's internal affairs”.