Syria peace talks with rebels resumed in Geneva on Wednesday while residents in government-held areas voted in the parliamentary elections. The opposition has denounced the move as a farce.
The local media published photos of President Bashar Assad and his wife Asma Assad casting their vote in the capital for a new parliament. People flocked to cast their votes in the center of the capital and close to the Lebanon border, reported The Guardian. Voting was extended by 5 hours.
People in Government held areas chanted, “Allah, Syria, Bashar – and that’s all we need” during a live broadcast.
Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad said that the opposition and a faction backed by the West and its allies must give up the “dream” of a transitional government.
Notably, the regime opponents boycotted the election, as reported by Chicago Tribune. The move would produce a rubber-stamp government for President Assad. Assad allies Russia and Iran approved the move.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said, “there is an 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. But before this happens, one should avoid any legal vacuum … These elections held today are designed to play this role of not allowing a legal vacuum.”
In the recent months, Russian, Iran and Lebanon helped Syria in the fight against rebels. Moscow and US have different opinions on Syria but still the US backed the parliamentary elections.
However, critics dismissed the elections as a sham.
A French foreign ministry spokesperson said, “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.”
Salem al-Meslet, a spokesman for the High Negotiations Committee, an umbrella group that represents the opposition in Geneva, commented, “the Assad regime will do whatever it can to undermine and derail the political process.”
He noted, “Free elections must be held in Syria after the political transition.”