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Russia dismisses Western claims about Syria’s May presidential vote

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Members of the press surround the ballot box containing the votes of Syria’s parliament members for candidates to the upcoming presidential election, after it arrived at the Supreme Constitutional Court, the highest jurisdictional authority in Syria, in Damascus, on April 29, 2021. (Photo by AFP)

Russia says the Western claims about the “illegitimacy” of the upcoming presidential election in Syria are yet another attempt to interfere in the Arab country’s domestic affairs and serve as a tool to exert political pressure on the Damascus government.

In a statement on Friday, the Russian Foreign Ministry said the vote will be held in line with the country’s Constitution, reminding the US and its European allies that the election is an internal issue of the Middle Eastern country.

Moscow was responding to the allegations that the representative of the US, France and Britain made in advance of Syria’s May 26 presidential election at a monthly session of the UN Security Council on the Syria crisis on Wednesday.

Elsewhere in the statement, the Russian Foreign Ministry said “we see the recent claims by some foreign capitals about the illegitimacy of the upcoming election as an element of gross political pressure on Damascus and another attempt to interfere in the domestic affairs of the Syrian Arab Republic.”

The ministry also said the Russian Federation — an ally of Damascus in its decade-long war on terrorism — stands ready to send observers to monitor the voting process in the militancy-riddled country if Damascus asks Moscow to do so.

Moscow expressed hope that the vote will be held in conformity with the existing national and international standards, despite the illegal occupation of parts of Syria by foreigners.

No party, it added, can dictate the timing and the conditions for a presidential vote to the people of Syria.

On Wednesday, Syria’s parliament ended a 10-day period for nominations for presidential hopefuls. Each candidate needs support from at least 35 members of parliament, and candidates must have lived in Syria for the last 10 years.

Fifty-one names, including that of incumbent President Bashar al-Assad, were then submitted to the country’s Supreme Constitutional Court, which will likewise study their credentials and decide if they are qualified to run for presidency.

According to opinion polls, Assad has a good chane of re-election given the high popularity rate he has secured thanks to his government’s successful battles against foreign-sponsored terrorists since early 2011.

The US and the Europeans, however, claim that the Syrian election will be “a farce” designed to cement Assad’s rule.

At the Security Council session, the ambassadors of France, the US and Britain to the UN rejected the outcome of the election, which will

The US envoy called the vote “a sham,” while the French and British ambassadors claimed the election will not be held in a “safe” and “neutral” environment without any international observers present there.

“Elections that take place in the absence of a safe and neutral environment, in an ongoing climate of fear, when millions of Syrians depend on humanitarian aid... do not confer political legitimacy, but instead demonstrate disregard for the Syrian people,” British diplomat Sonia Farrey said.

At the same event, Russian Ambassador to the UN Vassily Nebenzia responded to the claims and said it was “distressing” that some countries had already rejected the results of the upcoming vote.

The diplomat denounced “unacceptable interference in Syria’s internal affairs.”

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