Syria: President Bashar al-Assad sworn-in for fourth term

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President Bashar al-Assad on Saturday took oath to the office for a fourth term. As per Syrian officials, Assad won a thumping victory with 95 percent of the vote in a highly controversial one-day election that took place in May.

The election has been dismissed by the West as “neither free nor fair”. With his latest election victory, Assad’s term has been extended for seven more years in the war-ravaged country.

Assad’s swearing-in ceremony

On Saturday, Assad’s swearing-in ceremony took place at the presidential palace in the presence of members of parliament, leading political personalities, clergymen, and army officers. More than 600 guests including leading businessmen, journalists and academics were present as Assad was sworn in to the Syrian constitution and the Qur’an.

In his inauguration speech, 55-year-old Assad said that the election result has proven the strength of popular legitimacy that the public has conferred to the state. “They have discredited the declarations of Western officials on the legitimacy of the state, the constitution and the homeland,” he said.

A day ahead of the May 28 elections, world governments including the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Italy and Germany discredited the polls as neither free nor fair. Questioning the legitimacy of the elections, the US and Europe noted that it violated the UN resolutions put in place to resolve the ongoing crisis in the country. The West maintained that the May election lacked international monitoring and was unrepresentative of the opinion of the public. At the same time, the West named Syria’s fragmented opposition a “farce”.

Syrian crisis

The US and Europe have been critical of the Assad regime for the deteriorating situation in Syria. On the other hand, Syrian authorities have blamed Western sanctions for the country’s financial crisis which has resulted in surging prices of essential commodities and shortages in supply.

“Sanctions haven’t prevented us from securing our basic needs but they have created some choke points,” Assad said in his speech at the oath-taking ceremony.

The Syrian President also affirmed that his administration would continue to work to overcome the difficulties created by western sanctions imposed due to the country’s long-running war. “We will continue to work to overcome them without announcing what methods we used before to do that or what we will use in the future,” Assad said.

According to the United States, more than 80 percent of the Syrian population has been living under the poverty line. Years of war have left tens of thousands of Syrians displaced and struggling for survival. Last week, the Bashar Assad regime increased the prices of key goods such as bread and fuel as the country’s economic crisis increased manifold.

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