UN reiterates it is not involved in Syrian presidential election

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The UN on Wednesday reiterated that it is not involved in the upcoming Syrian elections and has “no mandate to be.”

In came after the Syrian parliament announced on Wednesday that President Bashar Assad will run for re-election on May 26 in what will be the second presidential election held during the decade-long civil war in the country.

“(Syria’s) elections have been called under the auspices of the current constitution and they’re not part of the political process established under Resolution 2254,” said Stephane Dujarric, spokesman for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. “For our part, we will continue to stress the importance of a negotiated political solution to the conflict in Syria.

“Resolution 2254 mandates the UN to facilitate a political process that culminates in the holding of free and fair elections in accordance with a new constitution, administered under UN supervision to the highest international standards, and that are inclusive of all Syrians including members of the diaspora.”

Pressed on whether or not his comment means the UN does not consider the elections to be free and fair, Dujarric said: “I think my words on Syria were pretty clear,” and reiterated his previous comments.

Geir Pedersen, the UN’s special envoy for Syria, has been working to support efforts to draft a new constitution as part of the political process aimed at ending the war and ensuring free and fair elections, supervised by the UN, in which all Syrians can vote, including refugees.

During a Security Council briefing last month, however, he acknowledged that due to a lack of “true engagement” by the Syrian regime, the political process has not succeeded in bringing about any tangible changes as yet, nor has it led to the adoption of a vision of the future for Syrians.

He said “free and fair elections” based on the provisions of Security Council Resolution 2254 still “seem far into the future.”

Assad has been accused by Western countries, including members of the Security Council, of deliberately delaying the drafting of a new constitution to avoid UN-supervised elections.

Last month Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the permanent US representative to the UN, asked the international community to “not be fooled by upcoming Syrian presidential elections. These elections will neither be free nor fair. They will not legitimize the Assad regime. They do not meet the criteria laid out in Resolution 2254, including that they be supervised by the UN or conducted pursuant to a new constitution.”

Barbara Woodward, the British envoy to the UN, said the UK “stands with the Syrian people to deliver all the steps enshrined in Resolution 2254: a nationwide ceasefire; unhindered aid access; the release of those arbitrarily detained; conditions for safe refugee return; and free and fair elections pursuant to a new constitution — all of which represent the only way out of this conflict.”

As many as 306 candidates, including 27 women, are in the fray in this phase of the assembly elections.

Over 1.03 crore voters, including 50.65 lakh women and 256 of the third gender, will be deciding the fate of these candidates across 14,480 polling stations in the sixth phase.

Among the 43 constituencies, nine are in Uttar Dinajpur, eight in Purba Bardhaman, nine in Nadia and 17 are in the North 24 Parganas district.

TMC and BJP are contesting all 43 seats. Congress, the Left parties and the Indian Secular Front have made a coalition and are contesting under the banner of Samyukta Morcha. Out of the 43 seats in this round, Congress has got 12 in its share, CPI(M) got 23, All India Forward Bloc (AIFB) got four and CPI has got two seats. Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) is also trying its luck and has fielded 37 candidates.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday sharpened her attack on the Prime Minister over the resurgence of COVID-19, terming it a “Modi-made disaster” and demanded that he quit if unable to provide adequate medical supplies to combat the disease.
She alleged that 65 per cent of the drugs manufactured in the country for tackling the pandemic have already been exported.

“The COVID-19 pandemic had subsided in the country but has surged in a second wave owing to the monumental failure of the central government and negligence and total incompetence on its part,” she said addressing public meetings at Chanchal in Bengal’s Malda and at Harirampur in the Dakshin Dinajpur districts.

As the Election Commission did not accede to Trinamool Congress’ request to hold the last three of the eight-phase election in West Bengal on a single day, Mamata Banerjee said she is forced to combat the sharp rise in infections in the state as its Chief Minister as well campaign for Trinamool Congress, her party.

West Bengal recorded a voter turnout of79.09 per cent till 5 pm across 43 constituencies in four districts during the sixth phase of the state assembly polls, according to the Election Commission.
Voting for the sixth phase of West Bengal assembly polls began at 7 am today amid tight security and will conclude at 6 pm.

BJP national Vice President Mukul Roy cast his vote at booth number 141 at Kanchrapara Municipal Polytechnic High School in Kanchrapara of North 24 Parganas district.

West Bengal BJP Vice President Arjun Singh and his son and party’s candidate from Bhatpara, Pawan Singh cast their votes at booth number 144 in Jagatdal of North 24 Parganas.

BJP candidate from Raiganj, Uttar Dinajpur, Krishna Kalyani also cast his vote at booth number 134.