Hollande blasts Assad for 'provocative' April election plan

Hollande blasts Assad for 'provocative' April election plan
2 min read
04 March, 2016
Damascus' decision to hold polls next month has come under fire from European countries, who say the short notice is dangerous to Syria's peace process.
The French President criticised Assad after hosting Angel Merkel in Paris on Friday [Getty]
French President Francoise Hollande attacked Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's plans to hold general elections in the war-torn country in just one month's time.

"The idea that there could be elections (in April) is not just provocative but totally unrealistic," Hollande said after a meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Paris.

The announcement that parliamentary elections would be held on 13 April came just minutes after a ceasefire plan for Syria was announced by the US and Russia. The ceasefire came into effect in the early hours of Saturday morning, and despite some breaches has so far managed to hold.

Damascus' decision to schedule the elections received support from the Kremlin.

President Vladimir Putin told his counterparts from the UK, France, Germany and Italy that the decision to hold the polls in April "does not interfere with steps to build the peace process".

During the course of the fragile ceasefire, the Assad regime has come under fire from observers who have accused Damascus of continuing its assault on rebel-controlled areas in Syria.

Despite the ceasefire largely holding, shelling and bombing of rebel areas by regime and Kurdish forces have continued, although on a much smaller scale than usual.

On Thursday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that 118 people have been killed in military operations in truce areas, including 24 civilians over the past week.

While the ceasefire in Syria continues, world powers are working to enact plans to end the violence that has shaken the country for the last six years. 

At a meeting in November in Vienna, world powers agreed to an ambitious road map for peace that would involve six months of intra-Syrian talks and free elections within 18 months.

As it stands, these plans are yet to be implemented.