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.

 

Air strikes kill 150 militants fleeing Fallujah

UN envoy seeks Syria peace talks’ resumption in July

41 killed in Istanbul airport bomb, gun attacks

EU agrees to opens new chapter with Turkey on accession talks

Egypt becoming departure country for migrants to Europe

US Navy probe finds leadership failings in Iran capture

Quartet report says Israel must urgently halt illegal settlement expansion

At least 70 killed in northern Aleppo clashes

Sisi praises Egyptian 'revolution' against Morsi

US-backed Syria rebels look to cut off ISIS from Iraq border

Egyptian Coptic priest shot dead in El-Arish

Iran sacks heads of four state banks over high pay

Detained RSF Turkey representative released

Lebanese army says ISIS attacks foiled, 5 arrested

UN extends Darfur mission despite Sudan opposition

Turkey detains 13 over airport attack

Palestinian killed by Israeli troops after deadly attack

Tunisian killed in Istanbul attack seeking to repatriate IS-linked son

Turkish forces kill 2 suspected IS jihadists at Syria border

Egypt president urges religious reforms to counter extremists

First aid convoy since 2012 enters two besieged Syria towns

Race to succeed Cameron begins after stunning Brexit vote

Yemen peace talks to take two-week break

Iraq secures $2.7 billion US military loan

ISIS pushes back Syria rebel offensive on Iraq route

Israel cabinet approves Turkey reconciliation deal

Turkey airport attack slams limping tourism industry

Putin lifts Turkey travel restrictions, orders trade 'normalised'

Fears for stranded Syrian refugees as Jordan blocks access

Bahrain activist back in jail despite worsening health

Witnesses recount Istanbul attack

Car bomb kills 10 in Kurdish-held Syria town

Ban to Israeli PM: Gaza blockade ‘collective punishment’

Alstom-led consortium awarded $2.88 billion Dubai metro extension

Democratic hopes fade away in Egypt

US-backed Syria rebels advance on key IS link to Iraq

Israel revokes controversial 'Hannibal Directive'

Detained Bahraini activist hospitalised

UN chief urges Netanyahu to make tough choices

Saudi Aramco, SABIC in joint petrochemicals study

Yemen clashes, air strikes kill 37 civilians

Egypt's anti-graft tsar becomes public enemy number one

Iraqis shun return to 'cursed' Fallujah

Lebanese army raids refugee camps after bombings

Ankara goes back on compensation offer for downed Russia jet