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‘Syrian embassy can hold elections within vicinity’

By Khetam Malkawi - May 15,2014 - Last updated at May 15,2014

AMMAN — Calling for Syrian nationals in Jordan to vote in the upcoming presidential elections, while using the premises of the Syrian embassy in Amman does not require the approval of Jordanian authorities, officials said on Thursday.

Khaled Kalaldeh, minister of political and parliamentary affairs,  said the government of Jordan has only received a “notification” from the Syrian embassy in Amman and not a “request” to hold polls in its premises.

“We cannot approve or reject this,” Kalaldeh told The Jordan Times, adding that all what we can approve or reject is providing security for them.

These views were also echoed by Omar Jazi, an expert in international law. Jazi said it is a “sovereign right” for any country to hold the elections for its nationals in any country provided it is within the vicinity of its embassy.

Any vote-related activity outside the mission needs approval from the host country’s government, according to the expert.

There are no figures of the number of eligible voters among the 1.3 million Syrians living in Jordan, including around 107,000 within guarded refugee camps. 

“The role of the host country is to provide security or whatever is needed outside the embassy’s premises,” Jazi told The Jordan Times.

In a previous statement to the media, Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh said approving or rejecting the Syrian authorities’ request to allow its nationals in the Kingdom to vote in the upcoming presidential elections hinges on the country’s security.

He added that the government is still considering the request it had received from the Syrian embassy in Amman for allowing Syrians to vote in their country’s upcoming elections.

“We do not interfere in Syria’s affairs, but if a decision [allowing Syrians here to vote] will affect our security, we have the right,” to take the appropriate measure, Judeh told the press in response to a question during a press conference he held Tuesday.

The minister added that there is a state of polarisation among Syrians living in Jordan and “we do not want anything that might affect the security of our country”.

In response to these remarks, the Syrian embassy in the Kingdom also said it had sent a “notification”, not a request for permission.

In its statement the embassy confirmed that it has only asked the Jordanian government to provide security on the elections day as “this is the role of the host country”.

According to the latest official figures, around 1.3 million Syrians reside in Jordan.

Over 600,000 of them are registered as refugees, while the rest are not registered as some of them came to the country before the start of the crisis in their homeland.

The upcoming Syrian presidential elections are slated for June 3, according to reports, while Syrians residing abroad will cast their votes at their country’s embassies on May 28.

Currently, three candidates are running for the elections, including incumbent President Bashar Assad.

The other two are Maher Hajjar and Hassan Abdullah Al Nouri.

The UN says over 150,000 have been killed so far in the Syrian civil war, which started with peaceful anti-regime protests in 2011.

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