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Assad's right to seek re-election is against people's right to democracy

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Syrian president Bassar al-Assad's greedy intention to re-run for the presidential election has only helped him garner negativity, casting doubts over his sincerity to the Vienna peace plan of November 14.

"It is my right to run in the new elections," Assad told Phoenix TV, a Hong-Kong based channel, according to AFP. In support to Assad, an Iranian minister said Assad is still eligible to be a candidate. "Any qualified person including Bashar al-Assad is entitled to stand as a candidate in any final political process in Syria," the Tehran-based Press TV quoted Iranian deputy foreign minister for Arab and African affairs, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, as saying, according to IANS.

Despite Assad's interest and Iran's backing, a grave question here is: whether Assad's claim about his right is genuinely justifiable and do-able at a time when the peace plan seems to have been moving post-November 14.

It has already been 15 years since Assad was installed as the president of Syria in 2000. Assad might be just 50 counting from his date of birth on September 11, 1965, but one and a half decade in power is itself a long period for an executive head. His father Hafez staged a coup in 1970, rose to power and ruled the country with an iron fist for 30 years. The father-son duos have been in power for the past 45 years in total. Five years short of a half century, the Syrian people have been braving the autocratic and familial rule of Assad and his coteries amid suffocation. The ordinary Syrians have been deprived of their fundamental right to free and fair election, accountability in government mechanism, press freedom and freedom from all extremisms.

By now, periodical elections have become a common phenomenon everywhere in the world. In the U.S., an individual can become the president for a maximum of eight years. Since 1945, all the U.S. presidents have served for a maximum of two terms only. Even in communist China, there is a new president in every 10 years. The last Chinese president Hu Jintao and his predecessor Jiang Zemin served for 10 years each and the incumbent president Xi Jinping, too, is already designed to serve for 10 years only. Iran, the staunch supporter of Assad, elects its president in every four years. The last Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is no more in power after serving two four-year terms from 2005 to 2013. And the current president Hassan Rouhani, too, is expected to serve either one or two terms only. Given the global scenario and the local situation back home, Assad should sooth his mind multiple times before he decides to re-run the election.

Some global leaders argue that it's the sovereign right and an internal matter of Syrian people to decide who will be their next president. However, Syria is no more under the control of Syrian people and the country itself is not an internal issue anymore. Syria has become a global source of conflict, concern, chaos and a setback to civilization. Until an order and a positive environment for a clear transition towards liberty and democracy are attained, the Syrian sovereignty will continue to remain a stake at the hands of the global community that has been working day and night to restore peace in the tarnished middle-eastern country.

It's a fact Assad is primarily responsible for displacing millions of Syrians, turning them into refugees and giving a rise to the ISIS. Had Assad heeded to the voice of political reform and step down, he could have built a better image for himself. When he talks about his right to be a presidential candidate again, it only exposes his myopic vision and the height of irresponsibility towards Syrians and the global community. Further, the Iranian minister Abdollahian's claim that Assad is as qualified as any other Syrian citizens for the post of a president also remains largely unjustified.

The Vienna peace plan of November 14 is positive in itself, as it lays the foundations and timeline for the transition of Syria from chaos to clarity. However, a lot more are yet to be done. The major task would be to restore peace in a holistic manner, so that it can be sustained internally and would externally contribute to the peace and order of the whole middle-east region. For this to happen, Assad has to show he has a big heart and is ready to call it quits to facilitate the transition process.

The best option for now would be to ensure in the peace plan that the Syrian opposition political parties would not have to hold dialogue with Assad's regime and an interim government would already be in place for the talks. If it is not possible, the peace plan has to ascertain that any Syrian citizen who has held the post of president for 10 years would be ineligible to contest the elections again. It would only then make Assad as qualified as any other Syrian citizens.
Will Syrian President Bassar al-Assad will be all ears to the voice of global community?
Will Syrian President Bassar al-Assad will be all ears to the voice of global community?
(Image by Alan Cross/
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Manoj Rijal is a journalist and writer covering issues of international relations, globalization and public policy. His interests include promoting democratic governance and rule of law in fragile as well as sophisticated societies across the (more...)

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