By Kubra Kara
ISTANBUL (AA) – A group of demonstrators here in Istanbul protested on Thursday the upcoming presidential elections under Syria's Assad regime that is set to be held next month in the war-ravaged country.
Nearly 30 people gathered in front of the Syrian Consulate General in Harbiye district. They tore brochures with images of Bashar Assad and carried Free Syrian flags representing the Syrian revolution.
Sallah Fadil, founder of the Syrian House Association, said on behalf of the group that the elections are invalid, according to an international agreement.
“We do not accept these elections and we condemn them,” he said.
On April 18, Syria's parliament set May 26 for presidential elections. The Supreme Constitutional Court will accept applications to run from April 19 – 28, according to the official news agency, SANA.
Assad has succeeded in every election since he assumed power in 2000 as heir to his father, Hafez al-Assad, by rates exceeding 88%, according to official election results.
The decision to hold elections was made despite the ongoing military conflict, lack of a political solution in sight, failure of negotiations between the opposition and the regime and the displacement of more than 10 million Syrians either as refugees or internally displaced persons. Moreover, about 40% of the country is not under regime control.
Syria has been in a civil war since early 2011 when the regime cracked down on pro-democracy protests.
Around half a million people have been killed, and more than 12 million had to flee their homes, becoming refugees or internally displaced in the past decade.
*Writing by Gozde Bayar