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International | Government & Elections

Upcoming Syrian Presidential Election
by Stephen Lendman
Wednesday May 14th, 2014 1:02 AM
Syria
Upcoming Syrian Presidential Election

by Stephen Lendman

It's scheduled for June 3. Aspirants had until May 1 to register. Twenty-four hopefuls did so. By April 28, seven candidates were approved.

They included Bashar al-Assad, Maher Abdul-Hafiz Hajjar, Hassan al-Nouri , Mohammad Firas Yassin Rajjouh, Abdul-Salam Youssef Salameh, Sawsan Omar al-Haddad, and Sameer Ahmad Mo'alla.

Before May 1, 17 more were approved.

Late registrants include Ziad Adnan Hakawati, Ahmad Ali Qsei’eh, Mohammad Mohammad Nassr Mahmoud, Ali Hassan al-Hassan, Ahmad Omar Dabba, Mahmoud Naji Moussa and Hossein Mohammad Tijan.

Twenty-four in all will compete. They'll challenge Bashar al-Assad. They'll do so for Syria's highest office. His main challengers include parliamentarians Hassan al-Nouri and Maher Hajjar.

On April 28, he submitted his candidacy application as required. He sent it to Syria's Supreme Constitutional Court (SCC).

People's Assembly Speaker Mohammad Jihad al-Latham announced receipt. Assad submitted required documents to run, he said.

He did so according to Syria's SCC's Article 21. It pertains to constitutional procedure, as well as its SCC and General Elections law.

Syria's parliament has 250 members. Candidacy approval needs at least 35 endorsements. Residency in Syria for the last decade is required.

Assad's Baath Party has 161 deputies. They wholeheartedly endorsed his candidacy. He's overwhelmingly popular.

He's expected to win easily. He promised a free, fair, open process. His supporters began promoting his campaign.

Syrian television star Wael Sharf tweeted:

"Elections are a right, a duty of every citizen. This is the meaning of true freedom, and this is how we exercise that freedom to the utmost."

"This is how I understand elections, and this is how every Syrian citizen who loves Syria understands elections."

Assad's official bio information says he was born on September 11, 1965. His parents were Hafez al-Assad and Aniseh Makhouf. He's married with three children.

He attended Damascus Llaique School. In 1982, he completed high school at Frere School.

In 1979, he joined Syria's Baath Party. He studied medicine at Damascus University. In 1988, he graduated. During his third year, he joined Syria's Armed Forces.

He's a certified ophthalmologist. He trained at Tishreen Military Hospital. From 1992 - 1994, he continued training at London's Western Eye Hospital.

Back home he joined Syria's Military Academy. He continued military training.

From 1996 - 2000, he presided over the Syrian Computer Society. He was instrumental in advancing computer technology nationwide.

He introduced Internet access. He provided free Internet computer technology (ICTP) training.

In July 2000, he was elected Syria's president. In May 2007, he was reelected. On June 3, he'll stand again.

Speaker al-Latham addressed letters to parliament speakers and MPs in numerous friendly countries. They include:

• Chairman of Russia's State Duma Sergey Naryshkin;

• Chairwoman of Russia's Federation Council Valentina Matviyenko;

• Chairman of the National People's Congress of China Zhang Dejiang;

• Speaker of the Lok Sabha (India's House of the People) Meira Kumar;

• Speaker of the National Assembly of South Africa Max Max Sisulu;

• Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies of the Federative Republic of Brazil, Henrique Eduardo Alves;

• President of the National Assembly of Venezuela Diosdado Cabello-Rondon;

• President of the Cuban National Assembly of People's Power Esteban Hernandez;

• Chairman of the National Assembly of Nicaragua Santos Rene Nez Tellez;

• Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies of Bolivia Marcelo William Elio Chavez;

• Chairperson of the National Assembly of Ecuador Gabriela Rivadeneira; and

• Chairman of Armenia's Parliament Galust Sahakian.

He invited them to observe June's election, saying:

"It's my pleasure to invite you to send a group of members of your reverend parliaments and experts in electoral affairs from your friendly countries to follow up on the presidential elections in our country."

He promised "a genuine presidential race." He urged other parliamentarians see for themselves firsthand.

The electoral process will reflect "our belief in your objective stances in support of the Syrian people and their right to elect their presidential candidate and decide their political future fairly, freely and transparently and without foreign interferences," he stressed.

"(J)oin (us in witnessing) this free democratic process that is taking place in an atmosphere of competition among a number of presidential candidates for the first time in Syria's history," he urged.

Syrians will have their say "freely and democratically," he said. They'll do so despite hostile powers' "annoyance and rage over seeing the Syrian presidential elections held on time as constitutionally scheduled."

"(T)hey are blatantly interfering in the elections although they are a sovereign affair and a domestic issue that concerns the Syrians alone as they are the ones to decide their results by themselves in line with the national and international laws."

On May 5, the Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) headlined  "Popular Rallies gather fresh momentum nationwide ahead of presidential elections."

They did so despite ongoing conflict. Huge numbers of "Syrian citizens flood(ed) streets and squares across the country…"

They came to show "support (for) Syria's army in the war against terrorism." They "voice(d) support (for upcoming) democratic" elections.

They expressed "patriotic feelings…" They resolved to support Syria's constitutional process. They oppose foreign meddling.

Sheikhs Hikmat al-Heijri and Akl represent Syria's Druze population. They urged widespread participation. They said June's election will reflect the will of the people.

Pastor Samih al-Sadi called it a turning point in Syrian history. He urged everyone to vote.

So did Sheikh Yasser Abu Fakhr. He called June's election a lifeline for Syria's democratic process. Its winner will lead Damascus for the next seven years. Assad's current term runs through July 16.

On May 3, he met with Syria's Higher Committee for Relief members. He stressed doubling humanitarian efforts.

He wants optimal use of state resources. He wants needs of displaced Syrians prioritized.

His government is responsible for all its citizens, he said. They face enormous hardships in time of war. They need all the help they can get.

Assad vowed to provide more. He urged ministries and other governmental bodies to work cooperatively. He wants more help delivered without delay.

His goal is getting displaced Syrians returned home safely. He knows terrorists hinder important work. He intends managing best he can.

War challenges all leaders. It's raged in Syria for over three years. It continues. Governing responsibly involves defeating foreign invaders. It requires beating Washington at its own game.

Assad's been up to the challenge. Obama's proxies are no match for Syria's superior military. Whether direct US intervention follows remains to be seen.

Syrians overwhelmingly support Assad's leadership. On June 3, expect strong voter backing. He's their last line of defense. Without him, they're on their own.

They want his leadership continued. They showed it in February 2012. They overwhelmingly approved new constitutional provisions.

They did so despite opposition boycotts and violence. Over 89% of eligible voters approved it. Another 9% opposed. A slim 1.2% of ballots were declared invalid.

Participation exceeded 57%. Given the risks taken to vote, turnout was impressive.

The Constitution includes 157 articles. From its initial draft, 14 new ones were added. Another 37 were amended. Thirty-four were reformulated.

Democratic reforms were real. Political pluralism was established for the first time. So were presidential term limits and press freedom.

Western officials mocked the referendum. Then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called it "a phony referendum that is going to be used by Assad to justify what he is doing to other Syrians. So it's a cynical ploy to say the least."

UK Foreign Secretary William Hague said it "fooled nobody. To open polling stations but continue to open fire on the civilians of the country has no credibility in the eyes of the world."

Media scoundrels regurgitated official propaganda. The New York Times cited critics calling the referendum "too little too late. Western leaders labeled (it) a farce," it said.

AP buried the results deep into an article. It stressed violence and opposition boycotts over impressive results. It downplayed them dismissively.

Most Syrians support Assad. On May 7, 2012, first time ever parliamentary elections were held. It was a milestone political event. Independent candidates participated.

Despite ongoing insurgent violence, turnout was high. Voting went smoothly. Independent monitors supervised the process.

They included intellectuals, legislators and judicial authorities. They came from numerous countries.

Voting was historic. Baath party members won a 60% majority. Previously they held just over 50% control.

With independent MP supporters, they comprise 90% of Syria's parliament. Opposition party members were elected.

Washington reacted as expected. They called results farcical. They shamed America's sham process. Monied interests run things. Voters have no say.

Elections are largely pre-determined. Democracy is fantasy. Syrians got the real thing. Western leaders claimed otherwise.

Media scoundrels regurgitated official Big Lies. They're in lockstep with official policy. They're conspiratorially involved.

They mock legitimate journalism. Rubbish substitutes for truth and full disclosure.

The process repeats each electoral cycle. Voters get the best democracy money can buy.

Syrians voted freely. They expressed their will without duress. They did so on their own behalf. On June 3, they'll do it again.

It bears repeating. Assad is hugely popular. He's favored to win overwhelmingly. Syrians won't trust leadership to anyone else.

Assad is their best chance. He's committed to liberate Syria from US-backed death squad invaders.

He's their likely last chance to live free. If reelected, he'll serve until mid-July 2021. Syrians want no one else.

Expect no election day surprise. Expect no Western post-mortem praise.

Expect Syrians to pay no attention. They deplore US imperial rampaging. They oppose US dominance.

They want sovereign independence. They want their fundamental rights respected. They're committed to defend them. They deserve universal support.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen [at] sbcglobal.net.

His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.

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