US says Syrian elections not 'credible or fair'

US State Department spokesman says Syrian parliamentary elections are not 'credible or fair' as Syria’s Bashar al Assad is still in power

Photo by: AFP
Photo by: AFP

A handout picture released by the official Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) on April 13, 2016 shows Syrian regime soldiers casting their votes for the parliamentary elections at a military facility at an unknown location in Syria.

Syrian parliamentary elections are not "credible or fair" while Syria’s Bashar al Assad is still in power, US State Department spokesman John Kirby said on Thursday.

During a press conference, Kirby stated that the elections could not be called free, while millions of people are under attack by regime forces and millions had to flee the country.

"And quite frankly, so many millions of Syrians [are] not even there," he said.

"Not even participating in this election because they've had to flee their country, flee their homes, [and] flee their communities."

Syrians in regime-controlled areas voted for new parliament on Wednesday, despite international disapproval.

The outcomes of the election has not been announced yet, despite results of the elections were anticipated to be made public on Thursday.

The election was expected to see Assad's Baathist regime keep control over the parliament.

The regime said that the vote was held to comply with the constitution, a view echoed by its Russian allies.

The Syrian opposition refused to take part in the controversial election. They said it will contribute to a negative climate for the peace talks in Geneva.

Western leaders denounced the process as a sham and provocation that undermines the ongoing Geneva peace talks, to end the six-year-old war in the country.

French Foreign Ministry spokesman, Romain Nadal, also indicated in a daily briefing on Wednesday that "France denounces this shame of an election organised by the regime... They are being held without campaigning, under the auspices of an oppressive regime and without international observation."

A Syrian regime soldier casts his vote at a polling station during the parliamentary election in Damascus, Syria, Wednesday, April 13, 2016. (AP)

A spokesperson for the British government said that "The decision of the regime to hold elections is a measure of how divorced it is from reality. They cannot buy back legitimacy by putting up a flimsy facade of democracy."

Russia, one of Assad's key allies, stated however that the election was necessary to refrain a power vacuum.

"There is understanding already, that a new constitution should emerge as a result of this political process, on the basis of which new, early elections are to be held," Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, said during a news briefing.

Syria previously held a presidential election in regime-controlled areas in June 2014, with Assad triumphing over two other candidates with 88 percent of the vote. According to the regime’s constitutional court, the turnout was 73 percent, but this figure has been highly doubted.

US Secretary of State John Kerry at the time called the election, which saw 21 candidates barred from running before they were held, “meaningless.” The European Union, meanwhile, said that the elections were “illegitimate and undermine the political efforts to find a solution” to the conflict.

TRTWorld and agencies