BEIRUT: Syria’s exiled opposition vowed yesterday to continue its uprising against President Bashar Al Assad, saying his election to a new seven-year term was “illegitimate”.
“The Syrian National Coalition reaffirms that this election is illegitimate and does not represent the Syrian people,” it said in response to Assad’s landslide victory in a Tuesday election held only in government-controlled areas.
“The people are continuing in their revolution until its goals of freedom, justice and democracy are reached.”
Assad won a new seven-year term with 88.7 percent of a vote held in regime-held areas of Syria this week.
It has been slammed as a “disgrace” and a “great big zero” by Washington, which has repeatedly called for Assad’s ouster.
In a statement posted on its website, the National Coalition said the vote “emphasises the need for more aid for the opposition, in order to redress the imbalance of forces on the ground, and to force the regime to abide by international agreements on a peaceful solution in Syria.”
With rebels seeking Assad’s ouster outgunned by Syria’s army, which is backed by Russia, Iran and the Hezbollah, the opposition frequently calls on states that back the revolt to better arm the rebellion.
The coalition said the Syrian voting results were “the last episode in a farcical play, as the criminal Bashar was announced the winner in an election boycotted by most Syrians inside the country, while students and civil servants were forced to participate.”
The group also said the vote “excluded nine million displaced inside Syria and in neighbouring countries”.
Russia’s foreign ministry yesterday said that Syrians had chosen their country’s future by voting in “legitimate” polls.
“It’s unacceptable to ignore the opinion of millions of Syrians who... came to polling stations and made a choice in the interests of the future of the country,” spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said.
“In Moscow the vote is seen as an important event that ensures the continued function of state institutions in Syria according to the constitution of this sovereign country,” he said.
“We have no basis to cast doubt on the legitimacy of these elections,” Lukashevich said, while acknowledging that “in these conditions, they cannot be considered 100 percent perfect from the point of view of democratic standards.”
“At least Russian observers came to the conclusion that they took place in a transparent atmosphere, despite all the complex security conditions in this country, and they noted a very high turnout,” added Lukashevich.
Russia felt “disappointment” at the “shallow politicised reaction” to the polls from “certain international partners,” the foreign ministry spokesman said.