U.S. calls Assad’s re-election bid ‘disgusting’

President Assad is widely expected to run for another seven-year term

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The United States said on Friday that the prospect of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad running for a re-election would be “disgusting,” three years into a crushing civil war ripped the country.

"We’ve been clear that Assad has lost all legitimacy to lead his people and any sort of campaign that he might run would be offensive and disgusting, I think, after what he's done to his people over the last many, many months," State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf said, according to AFP.

Despite not announcing his participation in Syria’s presidential elections due to be held before July, President Assad is widely expected run for yet another seven-year term.

Saturday marks the third anniversary of Syria’s uprising against the Assad family’s rule. The revolt initially began through peaceful protests calling for a democratic change, but the regime brutally crushed dissent, quickly intensifying the situation into a tragic civil war.

The fighting across Syria has killed over 146,000 people, and driven millions from their homes and out of the country. Assad has remained in power throughout, while rebels seized large areas of the country.

Harf echoed concerns expressed by the United Nations that a Syrian election would jeopardize efforts to negotiate an end to the crisis.

"The planning of any national election at this time, I think, would be an affront to the Geneva talks, would only make moreclear that the regime is intent on undermining prospects for a political solution," Harf told reporters in Washington.

The Syrian opposition has insisted that Assad must step down from power under any peace agreement. The demand was repeatedly called for recently in two rounds of failed talks in Geneva earlier this year.

Expressing further concerns, peace mediator Lakhdar Brahimi said if Assad follows through with a new candidacy, the opposition would probably no longer be interested in pursuing further peace talks.
"If there is an election, then my suspicion is that the opposition, all the oppositions, will probably not be interested in talking to the government," Brahimi told reporters after briefing the U.N. Security Council on Thursday.

A new electoral law gained parliament approval last Thursday. The new bill bars many opposition candidates from running during elections. Those barred included the Istanbul-based National Coalition. The move has virtually ensured Assad’s re-election.

(With AFP and Reuters)

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