US, European countries reject Syria election results in advance

US, European countries reject Syria election results in advance
Western nations have expressed their rejection of the upcoming Syrian presidential election, which is widely thought will be fraudulent.
2 min read
Syrian elections will be held on 26 May [Getty]

Western members of the UN Security Council, led by the United States, France and Britain, on Wednesday rejected the outcome of Syria's 26 May presidential election in advance, a position denounced by Russia as "unacceptable."

"The failure to enact a new constitution is proof positive that the so-called election on 26 May will be a sham," US ambassador to the UN, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, said during a monthly session of the Security Council on Syria

The regime of President Bashar al-Assad -- projected to win the vote under the current circumstances -- "must take steps to enable the participation of refugees, internally displaced persons, and the diaspora in any Syrian elections. Until then, we will not be fooled," she said.

"France will not recognise any validity to the elections planned by the regime at the end of May," said the French ambassador to the UN, Nicolas de Riviere.

Without including Syrians abroad, they "will be held under the sole control of the regime, without international supervision" as provided for by a UN resolution, he added. 

"Elections that take place in the absence of a safe and neutral environment, in an ongoing climate of fear, when millions of Syrians depend on humanitarian aid... do not confer political legitimacy, but instead demonstrate disregard for the Syrian people," British diplomat Sonia Farrey said.

Estonia and other members of the European Union believe a Syrian election must be held under the aegis of the UN and include the opposition and its diaspora, said Estonian ambassador Sven Jurgenson.  

"Anything else would be considered yet another farce," he added.

But their Russian counterpart, Vassily Nebenzia, whose country is a strong supporter of Damascus, called the idea that some nations have already rejected the results "distressing." 

He denounced "unacceptable interference in Syria's internal affairs."

During the session, the UN confirmed a resurgence of clashes in the northwest of the country, which is beyond the control of Damascus, and a humanitarian situation further worsened by the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Read more: Exclusive: How Russia swooped Syria's hydrocarbon share in the Eastern Mediterranean

The 26 May presidential election comes two decades into Assad's regime, and is the second to be held since the start of a devastating conflict in 2011 that has left more than 388,000 people dead and displaced more than half of Syria's population.

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