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Russian lawmakers say Assad ready to hold elections

October 25, 2015 at 12:15 pm

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is willing to hold elections, according to a Russian lawmaker currently visiting Syria.

Communist deputy Alexander Yushchenko told official news agency TASS that Assad, who has fought a four-year civil war that has killed more than 250,000 Syrians, is “absolutely confident of his electoral potential” in a presidential race.

Yushchenko is among a number of Russian parliamentarians visiting Syria on a humanitarian mission.

He said Assad was willing to hold a parliamentary election and discuss constitutional reform in Syria. The lawmaker said Assad also said he was willing to hold a presidential poll “after the victory over terrorism on the territory of Syria and the country’s liberation”, according to TASS.

Assad reportedly said the “struggle against terrorism” would form the basis of a “new and fair world based on sovereignty and cooperation”.

Yushchenko added: “We expressed the position that a deep constitutional reform should come from Damascus and not from Washington or Ankara.”

Another delegate, Communist lawmaker Sergei Gavrilov, told TASS that Assad had said he was ready “for parliamentary elections with the participation of responsible patriotic opposition forces and amendment of the Constitution and, if necessary, for general presidential elections.”

Russia is Assad’s most powerful ally and has become more engaged in the civil war since it began launching airstrikes against opposition forces on Sept. 30.

Last week, Assad made a surprise visit to Moscow to speak with President Vladimir Putin – a visit that has been condemned in the West and by Turkey, which has called for Assad’s removal and the installation of a transitional government.

After the meeting, Putin said Assad was willing to join rebel groups in fighting Daesh.