Steven Sahiounie, journalist and political commentator
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was re-elected to a fourth term in office, his second term under the 2012 constitution, with 95.1% of the votes, according to Hamouda Sabbagh, the head of parliament. Sabbagh announced the results in a news conference on Thursday, saying voter turnout was around 78%, with more than 14 million Syrians taking part.
Former deputy Cabinet minister Abdallah Saloum Abdallah received 1.5% of the vote, while Mahmoud Ahmad Marei, of an opposition party, received 3.3% of the vote. 78.6% of eligible voters cast their ballot in what many saw as the beginning of the end of the crisis which has devastated Syria since 2011.
"Thank you to all Syrians for their high sense of nationalism and their notable participation. ... For the future of Syria's children and its youth, let's start from tomorrow our campaign of work to build hope and build Syria," President Assad wrote on his campaign's Facebook page.
30% of the country is outside of the Damascus administration, with the province of Idlib in the northwest, which is occupied by the Al Qaeda affiliate in Syria, and the Kurdish self-administrated area in the northeast, which is partly occupied by both the US and Turkey. Those areas did not participate in the Syrian election.
Syrian refugees in Lebanon and Jordan did participate in the vote; however, refugees in the US, UK, Canada, Germany, and Turkey were prevented from exercising their right to vote by their host country. The foreign ministers of France, Germany, Italy, Britain, and the United States issued a statement criticizing the election. Their words fell on deaf ears in Syria, where the public is acutely aware of the western support of armed terrorists following Radical Islam in an attempt at 'regime change' which failed, but succeeded in destroying the country, and costing hundreds of thousands of lives.
The constitutionally scheduled election went ahead despite an UN-led peace process that failed to fulfill the UN resolution 2254 objectives. Through the course of numerous meetings, a new constitution was never drafted or ratified which made the 2021 election necessary to fulfill the existing constitution's mandate.
The UAE, Oman, Bahrain, Jordan, Lebanon, and Kuwait all allowed Syrians in their countries to participate in the early vote in the presidential election organized by Damascus on May 20, which shows a growing Gulf flexibility in dealing with Damascus.
President Assad, and his wife, cast their ballots in Douma, the site of an alleged chemical weapons attack in 2018, which has since been found to be a staged and fabricated media event. In retaliation to the fake attack, Syria was attacked heavily by the US, UK, and France.
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