Western powers slam Syria's 'farce' election, urge constitutional reform

Western powers slam Syria's 'farce' election, urge constitutional reform
Germany, France, Britain, Italy and the United States issued a joint statement calling for President Bashar al-Assad not to be allowed to remain in power.
2 min read
28 May, 2021
President Bashar al-Assad's family has dominated Syrian politics since 1971 [Getty]

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has drawn further international condemnation after claiming a landslide election win in a vote widely viewed as a farce.

The Assad regime claimed it had obtained 95 percent of the ballots cast on May 26, securing a fourth term in office and an extension of the family rule that has dominated Syrian politics since 1971.

The United States, the European Union and Turkey did not recognise the vote’s outcome, which they described as a "farce," and have called for constitutional reform in line with UN demands.

The UN's special envoy to Syria, Geir Pederson, said on Wednesday that "free and fair elections" should be held with a new constitution and held under the supervision of the United Nations.

EU High Representative Josep Borrell said the "elections undermine efforts to find a sustainable solution to the Syrian conflict."

 In a statement, Borrell called for a "fully inclusive" political process to ensure "that all segments of Syria's society are involved in shaping the country's future unity and reconciliation."

Ankara, which hosts over 6.5 million Syrian refugees, and Europe have not allowed remote voting to take place on their turf.

Germany, France, Britain, Italy and the United States have issued a joint statement, calling for "al-Assad not to be allowed to remain in power."

Read also: Syria's Assad stages a sinister simulation of democracy

The Syrian president, who held on to power when an uprising against its rule plunged the country into conflict 10 years ago, said criticism of his re-election had "zero value" as he cast his ballot in a Damascus suburb.

Assad cast his vote in Douma city in the rural area of Damascus, the site of a regime chemical attack which left hundreds dead.

Russia, which has been a staunch supporter of Assad throughout the war, was among a few countries to defend the outcome.

"Voting in Syria conforms to the constitution and current legislation, and it does not contradict international resolutions," Dmitry Poliansky, Russia's deputy representative to the UN, said.

The election takes place amid Syria's lowest levels of violence since 2011, but with an economy in free-fall and under ongoing dictatorial rule.