Syria’s first election on tuesday in more than 40 years, comes in the middle of a three-year civil war that activists say has killed tens of thousands of people.
The results were announced on wed when Al Assad won a third term in office after securing 88% of votes (the other two candidates secured aroun the 3%). The result reinforces President al-Assad’s hold on power, underlying the failure of U.S. policies aimed at inducing him to step down.
The opposition has denounced the election as a sham, and Western governments say they will not recognize its legitimacy. There are no serious opposition contenders or independent monitors, and voting only took place in areas under government control, as much of northern and eastern Syria is in rebel hands.
With neither side able to inflict a decisive defeat on the other, the international community long ago concluded that only a political solution could end to the conflict in Syria. However, a number of attempts by the Arab League and the UN to broker ceasefires and start dialogue have failed.
Then, in May 2013, the US and Russia began work to convene a conference in Switzerland. Recent attempts broke down at the beginning of the year with Syria insting on the necessity to fight the rebels and not accepting their requests.
The government has sought to present this vote as a democratic solution to Syria’s three-year conflict, although a win for Assad is certain to prolong the war.