U.S. Department of State website, 21 April 2014
U.S. State Department: All right. I have one additional item at the top.
Presidential – on Syria, I should say – presidential elections –
actually a referendum, not a real vote – in Syria planned by the Assad
regime undermine the Geneva framework and are a parody of democracy.
They have no credibility. Further, the Syrian regime under the Assads
has never held a credible, free, and fair election, and has taken legal
and administrative steps to ensure that this vote will not be fair.
Calling for a de facto referendum rings especially hollow now, as the
regime continues to massacre the very electorate it purports to
represent. The regime’s violent suppression of the Syrian people’s calls
for freedom and dignity is what sparked this brutal conflict. Staging
elections under current conditions, including the effective
disenfranchisement of millions of Syrians, neither addresses the
aspirations of the Syrian people nor moves the country any closer to a
negotiated political solution. [...]
Question: Okay. On the Syrian election
just for a second. In your view, there’s no way that – there’s no way
for an election to actually – for a real election to actually take place
because of the current conditions in Syria, or because of the fact that
there are millions of people outside who would – outside of Syria, or
U.S. State Department: Well, I think one of the major reasons, which you
didn’t mention but is worth noting, is that this – the Syrian regime and
the Assad family has a history of not holding free and fair elections.
Also, clearly what’s happening on the ground and the fact that this
brutality has happened at the hands of the very brutal dictator who is
planning to announce elections we don’t think would be free and fair is
really the greatest concern.
Question: Can you also just explain, how does it undermine the Geneva framework?
U.S. State Department: Well, as the London Eleven [Core Group of the Friends of the Syrian People] announced in its April 3rdstatement, any unilateral decision by the regime to hold presidential
elections would be entirely inconsistent with the Geneva communique’s
call for the establishment of a transitional governing body to oversee
constitutional reforms leading to free and fair elections.
Question: So – on the Geneva, so I can understand you
correctly, it is the transitional aspect that is missing? You need
something transitional – a transitional government – to oversee some
sort of a fair and free election?
U.S. State Department: Well, there are several aspects, Said.
U.S. State Department: I think the first and foremost is the brutality of
this very dictator who is planning to hold these elections, so – and the
history of what’s happened over the last few years. But certainly, the
Geneva communique calls for the creation of a transitional governing
Question: So that’s the one I think that would legally – or
stand in the face of a free and fair elections, correct? A transitional
body of some sort.
U.S. State Department: Well, there are also steps – laws that have been
passed by the regime that preclude anyone who hasn’t lived in the
country for 10 years from running for office that make it very difficult
for other candidates to run in an election like this.
Question: Okay. Do you still believe that Assad’s days are numbered?
U.S. State Department: We do.
U.S. State Department: And we certainly – as you know, [U.S. Special Envoy for Syria] Daniel Rubinstein is back in the region.
U.S. State Department: We continue to work with the opposition, we
continue to work with our international partners, and we’ll continue to
press for bringing an end to this regime.
Question: Okay. So no amount of transparency could actually be
– could be conceivable, correct, in this – in conducting this kind of
U.S. State Department: I think --
Question: Aside from the fact that maybe one-third of the population is dislocated?
U.S. State Department: Well, the Assads have never held a credible, fair, or free election.
excerpts from: People's Assembly: Presidential elections on June 3rd, 2014