News / Middle East

Vote Counting Continues After Syria Presidential Election

A handout picture released by the official Facebook page of Syria's First Lady Asma al-Assad shows Syrian President Bashar al-Assad (C) watching on as his wife Asma casts her vote at a polling station in Maliki.
A handout picture released by the official Facebook page of Syria's First Lady Asma al-Assad shows Syrian President Bashar al-Assad (C) watching on as his wife Asma casts her vote at a polling station in Maliki.
Edward Yeranian
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is certain to win a third seven-year term once votes are tallied in the presidential election face-off against two less well-known candidates. Voting took place Tuesday in parts of Syria controlled by the government, but was boycotted by opposition groups in areas they control.

Election observers from several countries, including Syria's allies Iran, Russia and Venezuela, told Syrian TV that voting at polling stations that they monitored appeared to go smoothly. Most of the observers expressed support for the government and President Bashar al-Assad.

At a polling station in the coastal government stronghold of Latakiya, an election official told state TV that ballot boxes were still waiting to be counted, but that he expected votes to be tabulated within the next 24 hours. He said voting had been heavy, despite unsettled conditions in the country.

He said that he was struck by the enthusiasm of the many refugees from other parts of Syria who turned out to vote in even stronger numbers than local residents.

Al-Arabiya TV, which supports the Syrian opposition, claimed that the government had flown supporters from outside the country to vote and had given money or favors in exchange for a ballot in President Assad's favor. It was impossible, however, for VOA to confirm the claim.

Ala'edin Boroujerdi, who headed an Iranian parliamentary delegation, told a group of visiting legislators that many Syrian expatriates had not been allowed to cast their ballots in certain European and Gulf states. This, he argued, was an “unfair breach of their human rights.”

Middle East scholar Nadim Shehadi of Chatham House in London told VOA that while the Western press has been calling the Syrian presidential election a “sham,” many Syrians still living inside the country must feel that it was the West that has perpetrated a sham.

"If you're looking at the elections in Syria from the West, they look like a sham, but if you're looking at the West from Syria, it's Western policy that looks like a sham, because Syrians were expecting that the international community would protect them [from President] Assad and would prevent him from crushing the revolt, so they feel let down," said Shehadi.

Former U.S. Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford told U.S. television broadcaster PBS Tuesday that “efforts [the U.S. and other nations] have made to date have not worked... [because] they have not put enough pressure on the Assad regime on the ground.” That, he concluded, is why the regime “balked” at a political settlement during a Geneva peace conference last February.

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Comment Sorting
by: Godwin from: Nigeria
June 04, 2014 2:09 PM
European Union declares polls in Syria illegal. At the same time the same European Union approves the election in Ukraine. In the eyes of the unallied societies, both Syria and Ukraine share something in common. Even then, Syria has a relative closeness to realism more than Ukraine with a make-shift mob government concocted to divert or deviate from existing course or direction. However I want to know what the West sees as the difference; why the same condition adjudged illegal in Syria is seen differently by the same European Union in Ukraine. Does it become right when it is done by the West and wrong when it is done from somewhere else? It is Russia’s timidity that yields room for this intimidation. By the action of the West to determine what is good relative to western desirability or otherwise subjugates truth to relativism. This is catastrophic. It leaves the world without a standard. A world of relativism in standards is a world of abstraction devoid of reality. That is a building block for chaos.

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