Syria’s Bashar al-Assad said Western criticism of Wednesday’s presidential election has “zero value” as he cast his ballot in a Damascus suburb.
Commenting on US and EU criticism branding the vote “neither free nor fair,” Assad said: “Your opinions have zero value”, an AFP journalist reported.
Voting is being held only in government-controlled areas and the US and the European Union said Tuesday the election was “neither free nor fair.”
“This fraudulent election does not represent any progress towards a political settlement,” they said in a joint statement.
Assad and his British-born wife Asma both cast their votes in the suburb of Douma, a key rebel stronghold before it was retaken by government forces in 2018.
The president wore a dark blue suit, his wife a light gray dress.
Other voters surrounded Assad at the polling station chanting: “With our blood and with our souls, we sacrifice our lives for you, Bashar.”
Speaking to reporters, Assad condemned criticism from Western countries, “most of which have a deep colonial history.”
“As a state, we do not accept this behavior,” Assad said.
The vote is the second election since the start of a decade-long civil war, that has killed more than 388,000 people and displaced half the pre-war population.
With opponents abroad barred from standing and no voting in the swathes of territory outside government control, Assad faces two virtually unknown challengers.
As Assad tightens grip on Syria, many refugees who fled to other countries lose hopeWhen Syrian refugee Lara Shahin fled Damascus at the start of Syria’s conflict she thought her family would be back within months to help rebuild the ... Features
Polls open across Syria for presidential electionsPolling stations opened on Wednesday across Syria in a presidential election that is set to usher Bashar al-Assad into a fourth term in office.The ... Middle East
US, Europeans warn Syria vote neither ‘free nor fair’The United States, Britain, France, Germany and Italy denounced Syria’s upcoming presidential election on Tuesday, saying it would be neither “free ... Middle East