Assad re-elected with alleged 95 percent of the vote
According to official figures, Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad has won the presidential elections with 95.1 percent of the vote. Voting was only allowed in areas controlled by Assad's regime, which make up about two-thirds of the civil war-torn country. Around twelve million people have been displaced by the war which has been raging since 2011, and almost four million Syrian refugees live in Turkey alone.
Dictator still strong, people still suffering
This is a deadlock, laments De Volkskrant:
“The election has only underlined how big the chaos is: the dictator everyone wanted gone is still firmly in the saddle, the country is in tatters and the refugees cannot return. The international community faces a difficult task for which there are no easy solutions. No one wants Syria to remain a source of conflict, terrorism and refugees. But at the same time no one wants to contribute to reconstruction and thus prop up Assad's regime. The only thing that is clear is that the end of the civil war is by no means the end of Syria's suffering.”
A problem with the vote count
At least eleven million Syrians were excluded from the election because they either live abroad or in areas not controlled by Assad, so the official figures are difficult to comprehend, Karar notes:
“Since eleven million Syrians did not vote, and the number of Syrians voting abroad is unlikely to have exceeded a few hundred thousand, almost all of the 14,239,140 Syrians who reportedly voted in the presidential election must live in areas controlled by the Assad regime. ... Let's say all those eligible to vote actually cast their ballot, then at least 20 million people [including minors] would have to be living in regime-controlled areas. ... The 11 million mentioned above plus 20 million equals 31 million. ... Can the number of Syrians, which was 21 to 22 million in 2011, have increased so much?”