Turkey denounces Syria's presidential election as 'illegitimate'

The Turkish Foreign Ministry described Syria’s May 26 presidential election as “illegitimate,” saying that it does “not reflect the free will of the people.” The ministry also said that the election was "not held under free and fair conditions" and failed to comply with UN Security Council Resolution 2254 on political solutions to the Syrian conflict.

Bashar al-Assad and his wife Asma cast their ballots in the former rebel stronghold of Douma on May 26. (Reuters)

Duvar English - Reuters 

Turkey said on May 26 that the presidential election in Syria was "illegitimate" and that a United Nations-led push for a political solution to the decade of conflict there must continue.

"The election organized today by the Syrian regime does not reflect the free will of the people and carries an illegitimate nature," the Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a written statement, adding the vote was "not held under free and fair conditions."

"It is important that the regime's attempts at achieving artificial legitimacy through the election, of which the results are expected, are prevented and for the political process being carried out under U.N auspices and the leadership and ownership of Syrians to be continued," the ministry said. 

Syria's government said May 26's vote, certain to extend President Bashar al-Assad's rule, shows that the country is functioning normally despite the war which has killed hundreds of thousands of people and displaced 11 million.

The election went ahead despite a U.N.-led peace process that had called for polls under international supervision to pave the way to a new constitution and political settlement.

Turkey backs rebels who tried to oust Assad and has waged several cross-border offensives into Syria since 2016 against Kurdish militants and Syrian government forces. It has also held talks with Russia and Iran, which both back Damascus, for a political solution to the conflict.

Meanwhile, on May 25, top diplomats from the US, UK, France, Germany, and Italy released a joint statement saying that Syria’s presidential election will "neither be free nor fair."

"We denounce the Assad regime’s decision to hold an election outside of the framework described in UN Security Council Resolution 2254 and we support the voices of all Syrians, including civil society organizations and the Syrian opposition, who have condemned the electoral process as illegitimate," they said in their statement.