Image source - france24.com
"We, the foreign ministers of France, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom and the United States of America wish to make clear that Syria's May 26 presidential election will neither be free nor fair"
Presidential elections took place in the parts of Syria where government still hold authority. Al-Assad (Current president office holder) is running against two government-approved opposition candidates -Abdullah Salloum Abdullah, former state minister of parliamentary affairs; and Mahmoud Ahmad Marei, head of the National Democratic Front, a small, state-endorsed opposition party. Forty-eight other presidential aspirants had submitted requests for candidacy, but their applications were rejected.
The United States and the four European nations said free and fair elections should be convened under UN supervision and "all Syrians should be allowed to participate." Speaking to the media after casting his ballot, Al-Assad rejected the criticism and said the following:
“As a state, we do not care at all about such statements,” he said. “But more important than what the government says or does not say is what the people say. I think that’s what we have seen during the past few weeks. It’s a clear answer to all of those people and it tells them that the value of your opinions is zero.”
The Syrian Democratic Council, which controls north-eastern Syria, slammed Al-Assad’s government for obstructing negotiations and meetings. “We will not be part of the presidential election process and we will not participate in it” it said in a statement.
The poll has been dismissed as a farce by the war-torn country's opposition, while the US and European powers have said it is neither free nor fair.
"We denounce the Assad regime's decision to hold an election outside of the framework described in UN Security Council Resolution 2254 and we support the voices of all Syrians, including civil society organisations and the Syrian opposition, who have condemned the electoral process as illegitimate."
Syria has been devastated by a conflict that erupted after Mr Assad's government responded with deadly force to peaceful pro-democracy protests in March 2011.