NEW YORK: 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.”