Yesterday, the Assad regime held so-called Parliamentary Elections in Syria. Bashar Al Assad is seeking to present this dubious election as a success against alleged Western plotting, but in reality it is simply another in a long line of Assad’s stage-managed, unfree votes in which the Syrian people have no real choice.
Syria has seen no free and fair elections since Assad’s Ba’ath party came to power, and this year was no exception. We have seen credible reports of polling staff handing out ballots already filled in with Ba’ath party candidates. Reports of citizens being pressured to vote were common, and voter privacy was not guaranteed. In addition, Syrians residing outside the country – comprising nearly one quarter of Syria’s pre-revolution population – were not permitted to vote. This disenfranchised population includes the more than 5 million refugees driven out of the country by the regime’s relentless war against its own citizens.
Per UN Security Council Resolution 2254, elections in Syria should be “free and fair,” “under the supervision of the United Nations,” and “with all Syrians,” including those in the diaspora, eligible to participate. Until the Assad regime and its government allow and adhere to these conditions the international community will view these rigged elections for what they are: another attempt by the regime to confer false legitimacy on itself and to avoid implementing the political process that UN Security Council Resolution 2254 requires.