Syrian Opposition Urges Election Boycott
Syrian opposition leaders on Sunday dismissed upcoming parliamentary elections as a cynical attempt by President Bashar Assad to hold on to power and urged voters to stay away.
The regime has portrayed Monday’s vote as a sign of its willingness to carry out reforms, while at the same time denying that it faces a popular uprising. In new violence, regime forces fired tank-mounted machine guns at two neighborhoods before dawn in the eastern town of Deir el-Zour, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. No casualties were immediately reported.
The election of a 250-seat parliament comes three months after the adoption of a new constitution that allows the formation of political parties to compete with the ruling Baath party.
Assad’s opponents say reforms without their input are a farce and elections cannot be held under the threat of guns. A U.N.-brokered truce last month has failed to halt a brutal regime crackdown on the 14-month-old uprising against Assad despite the presence of foreign observers sent to monitor compliance.
“We think the elections have no credibility at all in the middle of a situation where the regime is killing the population,” said Bassma Kodmani, a spokeswoman for the Syrian National Council, the main opposition group in exile. “It is an insult to the democratic process.”