An eyewitness account of festival-like Syrian Presidential Election

syria-3-candidates2014By Irfan Ali

Defying terrorists and their foreign masters, Syrian voters largely came out to polling stations on Tuesday June 3 to elect their President for next term.

From Damascus to Lattakia, Tartous, along Mediterranean Sea and areas bordering Iraq and other countries, queues of hundreds of people reflected their enthusiasm. They had to show their computerized national identity cards to the polling staff.

Crowds of jubilant youths were beating drums, clapping and raising slogans in favour of the electoral process because they took it as a festival. To them, it was a day of Eid. Terrorists were not silent. They continued mortar shelling. One hit the voters outside a polling station. A 6 year old boy accompanied by his parents was among the dead. But his father and uncle were slightly injured.

“What is our sin? Is it a sin to vote for President? Enemies reject democratic right of Syrian people. We shall elect our new president with our blood,” says the father. People were chanting in Arabic: “Allaho lil ibadateh, Bashaar lil qayadateh” and “HayAllah HayAllah, Bashar al-Assad BaadAllah.”

As a matter of fact, it was first elections in which more than one candidates were eligible to contest. But, 2 rival candidates had no complaints against the electoral process. They had a trust in Syrian political and electoral system. Rival candidate Dr Hassan al Nouri, a Sunni Muslim Arab, put it this way that presidential election was between Syria and its enemies and not among the contestants.

“We have no complaints about electoral process. There is smooth and satisfactory polling here,” said Julanda Jamaleh, polling agent for Maher Hajjar, presidential contestant, at a polling station established inside a Health Directorate in main Tartous City.

Sectarian or religious identities don’t matter in the Syrian society as Ms Jamaleh, a Christian woman represented an Arab Sunni Muslim candidate who hails from the Peoples Will Party, a Syrian Opposition party. Hajjar is from Aleppo.

Sena, an Alawite polling agent for Sunni Arab Muslim electoral contender Dr Hassan al Nouri also brushed aside the impression of division within the Syrian Society.

Similar was the stance of Sunni Arab Muslims, Durooz Arab Muslims, Shiites and Kurds. They all emphasized on their national identity and advocated for Syrian. They opposed foreign-backed terrorists and shared with this scribe their viewpoint that they want security, stability and prosperity of Syrian and Syrians therefore they have come out of their houses and voting for the candidates of their choice.  

The internally displaced people of Aleppo, Raqqa and Idlib cast their votes in the cantonment area named after Martyr Bassil al Assad.

“It is a day of Eid for us,” said Mohammd Jamil Daghbashi from Aleppo. Abdul Aziz Khalifeh from Raqqa and Abdul Ilah al Jessi also expressed identical views. He was not tense despite the fact that he was an internally displaced person (IDP). Maaskar al Bassil al Assad houses more than 500 IDP families. They also vote like residents of Banyas where Ayeda Adimi told she was proud and under no fear. She asserted that her vote is to show to the world that people trust Syrian regime and their votes will decide the legitimacy and legality of the system.

Presiding officers and polling officials were also satisfied. Hundreds of voters cast votes by the noon. At 7 a.m., polling began and ended at 7 p.m. but duration was extended for another 5 hours where people had lined up till the end of the voting.

A disabled person came with his wife and cast vote at a polling station inside a Cement Factory outside of Tartous. Centre of the City in Lattakia, Banyas and main Tartous City along the coast of Mediterranean sea wore a festival like look. People were enthusiastic. No fear of terrorists. It was a normal day. People were enjoying and celebrating the elections.

There was no difference of agenda of the contestants. They all laid focus on sovereignty, security, stability and prosperity through smooth political and democratic process.

Damascus, Sweida, Aleppo, Hama, Deir al-Zour, al Hassaka witnessed polling with a few suburban parts of Aleppo, Daraa and Deir al Zour were disturbed but Syrian government made alternate arrangements for the voters. Youths and women also largely participated in the electoral process. They all were very much interested in the bright future of Syria.

International observers and journalists from various parts of the world had also landed in Syria for the coverage and monitoring of the elections. The delegates from 32 countries including the U.S. and European countries also joined the observatory mission. Many countries’ official representatives were part of the international mission. They included Russian Federation, Iran, Brazil, Venezuela, Bolivia, North Korea, Tajikistan, Uganda, and Zimbabwe.  

They issued a joint final statement on Syrian presidential election declaring it free fair and transparent elections. The international observatory mission comprising joint parliamentary, independent activists and civil society organisations confirmed that the elections in Syria pave the way for a new stage of stability and national agreement and reconciliation in this country after more than 3 years of war imposed by foreign parties.

“Election in Syria is now a reality,” Anton Igorevich Lopatin, member of the central election commission of Russia shared his view with this scribe. He led the Russian delegation. 


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