May 1, 2014
Twenty-three Syrians have announced they will attempt to run for president, the official news agency SANA reported on Thursday, the final deadline for candidate applications. Current President Bashar al-Assad, who announced earlier this week he would run, is one of the 23 candidates.
Syrian opponents to the regime are underwhelmed by the first contested elections in the country’s history.
“Syrian state television will soon announce the names of citizens who have not nominated themselves for the presidency of the republic,” a meme circulating in opposition circles read, poking fun at the ever-escalating number of opponents to al-Assad, all of whom are relatively unknown.
“There is no legitimacy for someone who has arrested half a million people,” Massoud Ako, a well-known Kurdish-Syrian journalist based in Syria’s northeast, tells Mohammed al-Haj Ali. “There is no legitimacy for someone who has destroyed half of Syria.”
Q: Do you know anything about the presidential candidates. Have you heard of them before?
No, I’ve never heard of them in my life. They’re a bunch of clowns. This election is a farce, they have just nominated some extras to face Assad. There’s no doubt that Bashar will win—even the other candidates won’t dare to vote for themselves. They will vote for Bashar al-Assad.
Pro-opposition Syrian cartoonist Hani Abbas derided the June presidential elections. Photo courtesy of Syrian Revolution Caricature.
Q: What do you think of the Syrian elections. Are they legitimate?
The presidential elections in Syria are a real joke. They [show] Bashar al-Assad and his regime’s contempt for the blood of the Syrian people.
A murderer has no legitimacy. A murderer of children, the elderly, men and women has no legitimacy. There is no legitimacy for someone who has arrested half a million people. There is no legitimacy for someone who has destroyed half of Syria.
There is no legitimacy for these elections as long as homes are being destroyed and the population if fleeing from fear of rape and death.
Q: You don’t believe that anything good can come from these elections. What are the right conditions for elections?
Before there can be any talk of elections, the war in Syria has to stop and we must begin the process of rebuilding that which has been destroyed and holding the perpetrators accountable.
This must coincide with the formation of a temporary government or a transitional governing council, with agreement from all the different parts of Syrian society. A new constitution must be built. After that, we can talk about presidential, legislative or parliamentary elections.
Q: Can you think of anyone who would be a suitable president?
I told you – there can be no talk of elections. The war must stop, criminals must be held accountable, a transitional government or legislative council must be created, and then we can begin the discussion.
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