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Hundreds vote in Syria out-of-country elections as protesters denounce polls as illegitimate

By Muath Freij - May 28,2014 - Last updated at May 28,2014

AMMAN –– Hundreds of Syrians headed to their embassy in Amman on Wednesday to cast their votes in their country’s presidential elections.

Meanwhile, around 100 Syrians gathered outside the embassy to protest against holding the polls amid tight security and traffic congestion in Abdoun area. 

Embassy employees declined to speak to The Jordan Times on the progress of the vote, noting that they have instructions not to give any comment. They also refused to give The Jordan Times access to the embassy.

Syria’s official news agency SANA said the out-of-country elections witnessed “a notably high turnout” worldwide, marking “a landmark constitutional event which the Syrian citizens regard as a defying sign of steadfastness”.

The agency posted pictures of voters at its embassies in Jordan, Sweden, China, Malaysia, Iran, India, the Czech Republic, Belarus and Sudan.

Syrians who went to the embassy to cast their votes waved their country’s flag and held photos of President Bashar Assad  

Several voters refused to speak to The Jordan Times outside their embassy. 

A Syrian who identified himself as Jamal was one of the few who agreed to comment. He said Syrians are longing to go back home and reunite with their relatives. 

Bayan Hassan, who has been in Jordan for 22 years, expressed hope that the coming elections will result in restoring security in Syria. 

“I hope that all Syrians will be united once again,” she told The Jordan Times after she voted at the embassy. 

Aziz Salhani, who has been in Jordan for one year, said he wanted to vote so that life will return to normal in Syria. 

Meanwhile, protesters outside the embassy waved the revolution flag and expressed their anger over the elections. 

They also brought cardboard boxes and pretended to cast their vote in mock elections to show that the current polls are “illegitimate”. 

A Syrian woman who was among the protesters said it is “not fair” to see people going to vote for a man who, she claimed, has killed his fellow Syrians.  

“How are these people going to vote for a person who killed women and children? I don’t want to see him as the president of Syria,” she said, preferring to remain anonymous.

Besides Assad, two others — Maher Hajjar and Hassan Nouri — are competing in the presidential race.

Abdul Jaleel Shqaqi, a Syrian activist, said a number of Syrians launched a campaign to denounce the Syrian elections. 

“This campaign is spread via social media by Syrians who are not afraid of saying (no), not only to Assad, but also to the whole idea of elections,” he told The Jordan Times. 

He noted that people go to cast their votes because they are either scared of the Syrian regime or are under threats.  

Rania Hammour, another Syrian protester, said she is not going to vote because she is against the killing carried out in her country. 

“We say no to the person who caused the displacement of Syrians and turned them into refugees. I am really ashamed of the people who are going to cast their votes today [Wednesday].” 

The Damascus-born refugee said the limited number of Syrians who are going to cast their votes does not represent all Syrians living in Jordan. 

“Some people are scared and this is why they go to vote. They are afraid of losing the opportunity to go back home if they do not vote,” added Hammour, who has been in Jordan for more than one year.  

Suzan Sagheer, a Syrian journalist, said she was amazed to see Syrians voting even though hundreds are being killed in Syria. 

“Elections will not bring about stability in Syria, and the only solution is for Assad and his party to step down. A civilised country should be formed to serve all Syrians,” she added. 

Hani Mawed, another Syrian journalist, said the elections are “illegitimate” because half of Syria will not to take part in the vote. 

“Syrians in Arab Gulf states and Egypt will not cast their ballots. Syrians who are staying in the camps will not vote as well,” added Mawed, who has been in Jordan for six months. 

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