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Experts say Syrians back Assad
Editor-in-chief of Syria's leading newspaper al-Watan Waddah Abed Rabbo said in an interview with ITAR-TASS that the outcome of the voting was clear as Syrians would certainly choose Assad, because no other politician can bring back peace and stability to the country.
"People choose security and stability. They will vote for the person who will bring them peace and prospects for the future. People lived under President Assad, they know him and they will elect him," the expert said, noting that his forecast remained the same, i.e. 70% of voters would back Assad.
Syria's first election on alternative basis
It is Syria's first election on an alternative basis, in accordance with the country's new Constitution of 2012. Assad is competing against two little-known rival politicians: a Communist deputy from Aleppo Maher Abdul-Hafiz Hajjar, and businessman, former minister Hasan Abdel Illahi an-Nuri. The winner needs 50% plus one vote, otherwise a runoff election is held.
Half of all voters now live in Damascus, which has accommodated some 8 million refugees. They have the right to vote on the strength of their IDs at any voting station in the country.
Voting, due to end at 7.00 pm local time might be extended till midnight in case of high turnout.
The international community is equivocal about the election in the country where a civil war is raging. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon believes that the polls do not conform to the letter and spirit of the Geneva communique, adopted at the Geneva I conference on June 30, 2012 by the Action Group on Syria that included the foreign ministers of five permanent members of the UN Security Council.
The final document agreed with the need to form an interim government in Damascus to secure an election. Russia, however, believes that the election is yet another step towards stabilizing the situation in the country.
Observers from 30 countries friendly with Syria will monitor the voting, including a group of deputies from the lower house of the Russian parliament and representatives of Russia's Central Election Commission, as well as participants in the international conference in support of Syria in Tehran last Sunday. This forum called for a political settlement of the conflict which had claimed 162,000 lives in three years. The decision on holding presidential election is Syrians' sovereign right, forum participants said.