CAMPAIGN SEASON: Syrian President Bashar al-Assad launched his reelection drive in earnest over the weekend, even before the start of the official campaigning period Sunday.
“The world will not be able to change Bashar al-Assad—Bashar al-Assad will change the world,” reads one poster in a photograph published Friday by opposition activist group Tahrir Souri.
On Saturday, state-run SANA news agency reported that thousands of Syrians had mobilized in the coastal city of Tartous—which has a mixed Sunni-Alawite population—to show support “for the pillars of nationalism and the constitutional worthiness of the Republic’s elections.”
For their part, anti-Assad groups Thursday launched a social media campaign under the slogan “Blood Elections,” which calls itself “the response to the sham elections being carried out by the illegitimate regime in occupied Syria.”
The pro-opposition Syrian American Council issued a call on Facebook Thursday for “people of conscience” to share the hashtag “#BloodElections” and urging “public demonstrations to raise awareness of Assad’s plans to hold blood elections.”
“We initiate this call to action in solidarity with the Syrian people, as free individuals with the privilege to say “Blood Elections” without fear,” reads the Council’s statement. “By spreading our message, you can let Assad know that individuals of conscience across the world are watching, and that blood elections will not give him diplomatic license to slaughter civilians.”
Pro-Assad media released a series of videos late last month featuring prominent entertainment celebrities urging their fellow citizens fulfill their civic responsibility to vote, and residents in regime controlled areas have reported being ordered by government officials to paint their doors or store fronts with the Syrian flag.
Last week Syria’s Supreme Constitutional Court announced the disqualification of all but 3 of an initial 24 prospective nominees, designating only incumbent President Bashar al-Assad and little known politicians Maher al-Hajjar and Hassan a-Nouri as eligible to appear on the ballot.
Syria’s new electoral law requires that all nominees receive the signatures of support from 35 of Syria’s 250 parliament members, and restricts eligibility to candidates continuously resident inside the country for the past 10 years, effectively disqualifying all prominent opposition figures.
– May 11, 2014
Photo courtesy of @TahrirSy.
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