First Published: 2013-01-15

 

Muqdad: What’s wrong with Assad running for president?

 

Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister reiterates Damascus' long-held view that calls for Assad to quit immediately are illegitimate.

 

Middle East Online

‘In a democracy you don't tell somebody not to run’

DAMASCUS - President Bashar al-Assad should be allowed to stand in the 2014 election like any other candidate and it is up to the Syrians themselves to decide their future leadership, a senior official has said.

"We are opening the way for democracy, or deeper democracy. In a democracy you don't tell somebody not to run," said Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Muqdad in an interview with the BBC on Monday.

A plan to end Syria's civil war, agreed in Geneva in June during talks among global powers and the UN, envisages the establishment of a transitional government but it does not refer to Assad going -- a key demand of the opposition.

Muqdad's remarks come after Assad unveiled in a rare speech on January 5 in Damascus his own three-step peace initiative for the strife-torn country.

He offered dialogue with the opposition to end the conflict -- but only with elements he deemed acceptable, not rebel-affiliated groups he termed "killers" and "terrorists" manipulated by foreign powers.

His plan was rejected outright by the entire opposition as well as by the West, and it was criticised heavily by UN-Arab League peace envoy Brahimi who termed it "perhaps even more sectarian, more one-sided" than previous such initiatives.

In Monday's interview, Muqdad reiterated Damascus' long-held view that calls for Assad to quit immediately are foreign-backed and illegitimate.

"It is a coup d'etat if we listen what to those armed groups and those elements of Syria are proposing," said Muqdad.

"The president now and many other candidates who may run will go to the people, put their programmes and be elected by the people," Muqdad told the BBC.

"So the ballot box will be the place where the future of the leadership of Syria will be decided."

The United Nations says that more than 60,000 people have died in the Syria conflict which began 22 months ago, on March 15, 2011, with peaceful protests that quickly erupted into deadly violence in the wake of a harsh regime crackdown.

 

Yemen warring parties back to peace talks table

UN warns Eastern Aleppo may soon become besieged

Is Erdogan-Davutoglu tandem coming to an end?

US troops facing growing risks in Iraq, Syria

Cafes, restaurants spring up in Tripoli

Malta likely to become first EU member to open Libya mission

Qaeda threatens to target homes of Yemen security forces

Anti-ISIS coalition pledges additional military commitment

London set to elect its first Muslim Mayor

Fierce fighting rages in Aleppo as diplomacy efforts intensify

Riyadh's $22.5 bn Metro project on track

Egypt court sentences prominent activist to six months in prison

UK to take in more Syria child refugees

France to host Saudi, Qatar, UAE, Turkey FMs for Syria talks

US expects more military resources for anti-ISIS fight

Standoff escalates between Egypt journalists and authorities

Turkey says ready to send ground troops to Syria 'if necessary'

Hamas accuses Fatah of organising military cell in Gaza

Egypt court acquits Mubarak's last PM

Israel to upgrade ties with NATO as Turkey lifts veto

Passengers injured as Etihad flight hits severe turbulence

Israeli tanks fire shots over Gaza border

5th edition of Middle East Homeland Security Summit to be held in Amman in November

Money and revenge push Syrians to jihadist ranks

EU conditionally backs visa-free travel for Turks, overhauls asylum system

Airstrikes resume in Damascus as fighting 'freeze' ends

Relief in Yemen's Mukalla after year of al-Qaeda rule

Saudi oil minister visits Sudan to cement improving ties

Warnings for Assad as Syria talks shift to Berlin

Fierce clashes rage in Syria’s Aleppo

OPCW warns ISIS may be making chemical weapons

French court says 'Carlos the Jackal' must face trial for 1974 attack

UN demands protection of hospitals in armed conflicts

Jewish settler who led burning alive of Palestinian teen receives life sentence

Italy ready to raise shipwreck off Libya coast

Heavy airstrikes kill dozens in ISIS Syria bastion

Deadly intra-rebel clashes rock eastern part of Syria capital

German 'jihadist' goes on trial for Syria war crimes

Number of people held in solitary confinement doubles in Israel

UN fears operation near Mosul will displace 30,000 more Iraqis

Turkey Nobel Laureate shows solidarity with veteran writer, Murat Belge

Russian FM hopes for Aleppo ceasefire in 'next few hours'

Israel Labour mulls break with British party over anti-Semitism claims

Saudi to ensure Binladin Group resolves wage issues

Tens of thousands of Shiite pilgrims flock to Baghdad shrine