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.

 

Iraq’s peshmerga ‘break’ Mount Sinjar siege

Yemen’s Huthis seize Sanaa state offices

Tough times for oil-rich GCC

Obama concerned about Egypt mass trials

Tumbling oil prices cut budgets of Mideast arms exporters

Turkey acquits sociologist over 1998 explosion

EU foreign affairs head to visit Iraq

Turkey court remands Samanyolu TV chief in custody

IS threatens to kill Lebanese soldiers held hostage

Turkish media chiefs charged with terrorism

Iraq may delay payment of Kuwait war reparations

Over $900 million needed to help Syria children

Saudi rules out oil output reduction

Dutch populist lawmaker to be tried for 'fewer Moroccans' vow

Outrage in Algeria over Islamist call for Algerian author's death

Iraq Kurds, coalition launch offensive to retake Sinjar

Three years to end Israeli occupation in UN resolution

Somalia appoints new PM after bitter infighting

Blow to Israel: EU court removes Hamas from terror blacklist

Sharp rise in Syria passport applications

Turkey FM visit to Iran highlights Syria divide

UK troops mistreated Iraq detainees in 2004

Saudi to carry on massive public spending

Iran to Australia: We warned you about the gunman

From bikini to Jihad in Ceuta, Melilla

Tunisia votes Sunday in second round of presidential poll

Islamist militias launch air strike near key Libyan oil terminals

Egypt refers 312 Islamists to military courts

Turkey rejects EU criticism over media arrests

Kerry meets chief Palestinian negotiator

Saudi cleric sparks uproar for showing wife’s face

15,000 march against country’s ‘Islamisation’ in eastern Germany

Key oil producers face uncertain outlook in 2015

Gulf stock markets tumble

Australia mourns Sydney cafe siege victims

Hostages flee as police storm Sydney café

Erdogan to EU: Mind your own business!

Syria PM in Iran for talks with key ally

22 Swiss jihadists fighting abroad

#illridewithyou: Australians stand in solidarity with Muslims

Sydney siege 'lone wolf' or IS-led attack?

EU support UN efforts for Aleppo ceasefire

Saudi policeman killed in Riyadh hostage-taking

Saudi king receives Jordan monarch

Palestinians push UN bid to end Israeli occupation