Syria to hold parliamentary elections on Sunday

Damascus [Syria], July 19 : The Syrian government is due to hold parliamentary elections on Sunday in hope for a change in the political scenario that could resolve the economic hardships of the country, Al Jazeera reported.

The elections come at a time when President Bashar al-Assad marked 20 years in power amid a continuing war and deep economic woes.

Over 2,000 candidates, including businessmen under recently-imposed United States sanctions, will be contesting in the legislative elections – the third since the start of the 2011 protests and ensuing civil war.

The elections, originally scheduled to be held in April, were postponed twice due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Although several lists are running in the polls, the real opposition to al-Assad’s Baath Party is absent in the election.

Opposition groups traditionally tolerated by the government are expected to boycott the polls and the Baath Party is guaranteed to monopolise the new parliament as it has done in previous elections.

In the last vote in 2016, the Baath and its allies took 200 of the 250-seat parliament while the remaining posts went to independent candidates.

Observers say the contest lacks credibility with the majority of candidates being either part of al-Assad’s Baath Party or loyal to his regime.

More than 7,000 polling stations have been set up across about 70 per cent of the government-controlled areas of the country.

Al-Assad’s troops regained control over Eastern Ghouta in 2018 and southern parts of Idlib after the launch of a Russian-backed offensive to retake the northwest province in late 2019.

Other parts of Idlib remain as the last rebel-held bastion in the country, while large swaths of land along the Turkey-Syria border house millions of internally displaced Syrians from the war.

Syrians living abroad, including millions of refugees forced to leave their homes because of fighting, will not be taking part in the elections.

After the vote, the new parliament plans to approve a new constitution, and al-Assad is expected to name a new prime minister. The new parliament will also be expected to approve candidates for the next presidential election.

However, experts opined that the international community will not recognise the vote as Al-Assad’s time in history has been marred by a bloody civil war that has seen hundreds of thousands of people killed and millions of Syrians displaced inside and outside of the country. (ANI)

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