Western nations condemn Syria’s presidential election as neither ‘free nor fair’

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May 26 (UPI) — A day before the presidential election is to be held in Syria, Western nations, including the United States and Britain, warned that the contest “will neither be free nor fair.”

The joint statement from the foreign ministers of France, Germany, Italy, Britain and the Untied States was issued Tuesday, a day before polls are to open in Syria for an election that is all but expected to see President Bashar al-Assad elected to a fourth term in office.

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The Western nations said they denounce the Assad regime’s decision to hold the election outside of U.N. supervision as established by U.N. Resolution 2254 of 2015 that endorsed a roadmap for peace in the war-torn Middle Eastern country.

“For an election to be credible, all Syrians should be allowed to participate, including internally displaced Syrians, refugees and members of the diaspora, in a safe and neutral environment,” the nations said. “Without these elements, this fraudulent election does not represent any progress towards a political settlement.”

The war in Syria ignited in 2011 following Assad’s brutal cracked down on pro-democracy protests. Since then, more than 6.6 million Syrians have fled the country with another 6.7 million internally displaced, according to the United Nations Human Rights Council.

The countries behind the joint statement have imposed sanctions targeting those of the Assad regime, and have called on the international community to put pressure on Syria to bring an end to the decade-long war. In April, Syria was punished by a chemical weapons watchdog over it use of such munitions on its own people.

“We urge the international community to unequivocally reject this attempt by the Assad regime to regain legitimacy without ending its grave human rights violations and meaningfully participating in the U.N.-facilitated political process to end the conflict,” the countries said.