The United Nations sharply criticized Syria’s decision Monday to hold a presidential election June 3 in the midst of war, saying it would torpedo a political resolution of the conflict.
U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon and special envoy for Syria Lakhdar Brahimi have both warned against elections in the current circumstances, spokesman Stephane Dujarric said.
They believe it “will damage the political process and hamper the prospect for a political solution that the country so urgently needs,” he said.
“Such elections are incompatible with the letter and spirit of the Geneva communique,” he added, referring to an agreement on a transition to democracy as the basis for negotiations between the government and the opposition.
The president of the Syrian parliament, Mohammad al-Laham, announced earlier Monday that presidential elections would be held June 3 despite the violence. Syrians outside the country would vote May 28, according to Laham, who promised the poll would be “free and fair.”
President Bashar Assad, who succeeded his father Hafez upon his death in 2000, told Agence France Presse in January there was a strong chance he would run.
In mid March, Brahimi warned that presidential elections would mean the demise of negotiations to put an end to three years of war.
He said the opposition would refuse to come to the table if Assad were re-elected. Damascus reacted by saying Brahimi had overstepped his mandate.
The Syrian opposition has dismissed the elections as a “farce” and said they should be rejected by the international community.
More than 150,000 people have died in the conflict, according to a Syrian NGO, and millions more have been pushed from their homes and turned into refugees.