Syria says France, Germany blocking expat vote

Updated 15 May 2014

Syria says France, Germany blocking expat vote

DAMASCUS: The foreign ministry said Monday that France and Germany intend to prevent Syrians living in their countries from voting in Syria’s presidential election, expected to return President Bashar Assad to power.
Germany and France are “preventing Syrians living in their territory from voting,” the foreign ministry said.
“France... is carrying out a hostile press campaign” against next month’s election, it said in a statement carried by state news agency SANA.
“It has officially informed our embassy in Paris of its opposition to the holding of the vote on Frech territory, including the Syrian embassy.”
French foreign ministry spokesman Romain Nadal implicitly confirmed the decision.
“The organization of foreign elections on French soil is covered by the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations of April 24, 1963,” he told AFP.
“As we are authorized by this convention, French authorities have the right to oppose the holding of this election anywhere on French territory.”
He reiterated France’s demand for a “political solution” to conflict in Syria as well as a transition process and Assad’s departure from office.
“Bashar Assad, who is responsible for the death of 150,000 people, cannot represent the future of the Syrian people,” Nadal said.
More than 150,000 people have been killed in Syria’s conflict, which began with anti-government protests in mid-March 2011.
Despite the violence, Damascus has set the presidential election for June 3, with expatriate voting to take place on May 28.
Voting in Syria will only be held in government-held territory, and Syrians who fled through unofficial border crossings will be barred from voting abroad.
The foreign ministry said Germany had “joined the countries trying to block the presidential elections in Syria.”
It accused Berlin of “supporting, funding and arming terrorist groups in a bid to destroy Syria,” referring to the anti-Assad opposition.
“It is not surprising that these countries have taken the decision to prevent Syrian citizens living in their territory from exercising their constitutional right to vote in the embassies of their country,” the ministry added.
Syria’s opposition and much of the international community have criticized Damascus for its decision to hold the presidential vote, dismissing the ballot as a “farce.”


Jordan criticizes Israel over Al-Aqsa Mosque changes

Updated 6 min 22 sec ago

Jordan criticizes Israel over Al-Aqsa Mosque changes

  • Palestinians welcomed the Jordanian position but expressed concerns over a decline of support for Amman’s custodianship of the holy places at Al-Aqsa

AMMAN: Jordan has stepped up its diplomatic pressure on Israel, demanding that they do not change the status quo at Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Zaid Lozi, director-general of Jordan’s Foreign Ministry, summoned Israeli Ambassador to Jordan Amir Weissbrod to protest Israel’s actions in Jerusalem.

According to Petra News, Lozi told the envoy that recent remarks by Israeli Public Security Minister Gilad Ardan over changing the status quo at Al-Aqsa Mosque are unacceptable. Lozi added that the mosque is a place of worship for Muslims only.

Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi addressed a group of EU ambassadors in Amman and “stressed the urgency of effective international steps against Israel’s violations of Holy Sites in occupied Jerusalem.”

Safadi told Arab News that the situation in Jerusalem is challenging and must be addressed. He said that he will present a detailed report on Jordan’s position to Parliament on Monday.

The ministry denounced the Israeli authorities’ closure of the mosque’s gates and demanded that Israel respects its obligations in accordance with international humanitarian law.

HIGHLIGHT

• Muslims insist that all 144,000 square meters of the UNESCO World Heritage Site are a single unit that has belonged to them for 11 centuries.

Hatem Abdel Qader, a member of the Jerusalem Islamic Waqf, told Arab News that Israeli authorities had been attempting to enforce major changes at the mosque.

“Security forces barged into the mosque yesterday. They went to the Bab Al-Rahmeh Mosque where they confiscated carpets and the closet where shoes are kept.”

Jordan’s diplomatic statements follow comments by Ardan, who said that Israel is disappointed with the current state of affairs at Al-Aqsa Mosque.

According to Israeli officials, the mosque area is sovereign Israeli territory, despite it being administered by Jordan. Muslims insist that all 144,000 square meters of the UNESCO World Heritage Site are a single unit that has belonged to them for 11 centuries.

Qader said that Palestinians welcomed the Jordanian position but expressed concerns over a decline of support for Amman’s custodianship of the holy places at Al-Aqsa.

“There appears to have been a gradual deterioration of Arab and Islamic support to Jordan. It surprises me that Muslims have been quiet, perhaps they see an advantage if Jordan’s role is diminished? If true, this would be dangerous.”

Qader, a former minister in the Palestinian government and a current member of the Fatah Revolutionary Council, told Arab News that Jordan’s position “guarantees continuation of the status quo.”