Assad: elections show Syrians support regime

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Members of the United Nations observers mission in Syria leave a hotel in Damascus and head to the areas where protests against the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad have been taking place, 17 May 2012. (Photo: Reuters - Khaled al-Hariri)

Published Thursday, May 17, 2012

Parliamentary elections have shown that most Syrians support the government's reform plans, the country's beleaguered President Bashar Assad said on Wednesday.

Speaking to Russia's Rossia-24 state news channel, Assad said the results in which the ruling Baath party won the majority of the seats showed that Syrians were "not scared by the terrorists."

“Election results reflect the opinion of the people, this is a serious result for everyone inside the country, as well as outside. The Syrian people are not scared by the terrorists who tried to get us to cancel the elections; the results show that the Syrian people still support the reforms that we announced a year ago," Assad said.

Syria announced on Tuesday the results of its first multiparty parliamentary elections, with opposition parties accusing the regime of breaches.

The Baath party won 183 seats out of 250, or 73 percent, with turnout just over 50 percent, Syrian state television reported.

However the opposition condemned the elections as a farce.

"Most support the system, this is why the parliamentary election was very important,” Assad said.

Assad also condemned anti-government rebels inside Syria, labeling them a "group of criminals" and said his forces had captured foreign mercenaries inside the country.

"They get money and weapons from abroad from various countries. It is a group of criminals who have for years broken the law and received convictions."

"They (foreign mercenaries) have been captured and we are preparing to show them to the world," he said, without giving further details.

Accusing the West of ignoring opposition violence, he said: "The West only talks about violence, violence on the government side. There is not a word about the terrorists. We are still waiting."

(Al-Akhbar)

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