DAMASCUS (Dispatches) – Thousands of people have marched in the Syrian capital of Damascus in support of Syrian President Bashar Assad, a Sputnik correspondent has reported.
A Saturday demonstration in Damascus lasted over two hours as people marched along Al Mazzeh street toward the central Umayyad Square, where the peacefully organized demonstration ended with the lighting of torches and fireworks.
“Today, students from the General Sports Union and Damascus residents gathered together, more than 8 thousand people. We came to support our president in the elections. We came to say that we are a united and strong people who have conquered terror,” one demonstrator - and member of Syria’s General Sports Union - told Sputnik on Saturday.
Users in Twitter shared photo and video of the rally.
A presidential election will be held in Syria on Wednesday, May 26. As confirmed by the Syrian Constitutional Court, Assad’s two rivals in the vote are opposition candidate Mahmoud Ahmed (Ahmad) Marei and former Socialist lawmaker Abdallah Salloum Abdallah. All candidates have the right to campaign until May 24.
Meanwhile, the Syrian government lambasted the French foreign ministry’s interventionist remarks about the presidential vote, stressing that only Syrians have the final word in the matter and no foreign party is allowed to meddle in Syria’s affairs.
The rebuke came after a French foreign ministry spokesman on Friday claimed that the Syrian presidential elections were “invalid and illegal.”
The Syrian foreign ministry told the official news agency SANA in a statement on Saturday that the election is a sovereign Syrian affair and no foreign party has the right to interfere in it.
“The Syrian Arab Republic considers the statement issued by French foreign ministry spokesman on the presidential elections in Syria as ‘useless’ as these elections are a Syrian sovereign affair par excellence and no foreign party has the right to interfere in it and it is completely not its concern to express its opinions,” SANA quoted an official source at the Syrian foreign ministry as saying.
The source said the huge turnout by the Syrians living abroad at the ballot boxes throughout the world, including in the French capital of Paris, was the most eloquent response to such baseless remarks.
The official source also stressed that the wrong approaches of the French government in Syria can never impede the process of stabilization in the Arab country.
The French government should be well aware that it bears full responsibility, along with other countries hostile to Syria, for the bloodshed and destruction in the country through supporting terrorism and the illegitimate coercive measures imposed on the Syrian people, SANA said.
On Thursday, Syrian expatriates and refugees kicked off voting for Syria’s presidential election slated for May 26, with reports indicating a huge turnout of voters at polling stations in Syrian embassies abroad.