IN SEPARATE messages, Iran, Russia and China congratulate Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for achieving a landslide victory in the 2021 presidential race.
Iran, Russia and China have separately congratulated Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for achieving a landslide victory and winning his fourth seven-year term in the 2021 presidential election.
In a statement issued on Friday, Iran’s Foreign Ministry extended congratulations to Assad and the resilient Syrian nation on his firm victory in the election.
‘Successful holding of the election and the Syrian people’s massive turnout are an important step in establishing peace, stability and tranquillity as well as Syria’s reconstruction and development,’ said the statement.
It added that Iran respects the Syrian people’s decision and supports their right to determine the Arab country’s fate without any foreign interference.
Syrian parliament speaker Hamoudeh Sabbagh announced on Thursday that Assad overwhelmingly won the country’s presidential election as opposed to 88.7 per cent in the 2014.
Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad wins the country’s presidential election by a landslide, securing 95.1 per cent of the popular vote.
He said that about 14 million of the estimated 18 million eligible voters inside and outside Syria cast their votes, with a turnout rate of 78.64 per cent.
He added that Assad was contesting the polls alongside two other candidates, opposition figure Mahmoud Ahmad Marei and former MP and minister, Abdullah Sallum Abdullah.
Marei came second in the race by winning 3.3 per cent or 470,276 of the ballots, while Abdullah secured 1.5 per cent of the vote or 213,968 ballots.
In a statement on Friday, the Russian Foreign Ministry also welcomed Assad’s ‘decisive’ victory and said that Moscow regards Syria’s presidential election as an ‘important step’ toward strengthening stability in the war-ravaged Arab country.
‘A decisive victory was won by the incumbent head of state. We view the elections as a sovereign affair of the Syrian Arab Republic and an important step towards strengthening its internal stability,’ the ministry added.
It emphasised that ensuring the normal operation of all state institutions based on Syria’s laws would serve the ‘interest of all of the Syrian people, particularly amid the ongoing fight against the terrorists’.
The ministry said Western statements calling into question the validity of the election even before it was held was ‘an element of blatant political pressure on Damascus and another attempt to interfere in the internal affairs of Syria with the aim to destabilise it’.
‘No one has the right to dictate to Syrians when and under what conditions they should elect their head of state,’ it pointed out.
Russia says the Western claims about the ‘illegitimacy’ of the upcoming presidential election in Syria are yet another attempt to interfere in the Arab country’s domestic affairs.
The Russian Foreign Ministry reiterated Moscow’s determination to continue upholding Syria’s sovereignty and assist the war-torn state in dealing with the aftermath of the armed conflicts.
‘Russia, for its part, is determined to continue pursuing a firm policy aimed at supporting Syria’s sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity, as well as provide the country with comprehensive assistance in restoring socio-economic infrastructure and eliminating other negative consequences of the prolonged conflict.
‘We will continue our efforts to promote the political process led by the Syrian people based on the United Nations Security Council Resolution 2254,’ the statement read.
In a Friday message to Assad published by the Kremlin, Russian President Vladimir Putin congratulated his Syrian counterpart on his re-election which confirmed his ‘high political authority’ in the war-stricken country.
‘The vote results fully confirmed your high political authority and the confidence of your fellow citizens in the course taken under your leadership to stabilise the situation in Syria as soon as possible,’ Putin said.
Meanwhile, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Zhao Lijian, said Beijing congratulated Syria’s Assad on his re-election and supports the Arab country’s sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity.
‘This year marks the 65th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between China and Syria featured by a longstanding friendship,’ Zhao said at a regular press conference.
‘China firmly supports Syria’s efforts in safeguarding its national sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity, and stands ready to work with Syria to take the 65th anniversary as an opportunity to achieve new progress in our friendly cooperation,’ he added.
- Meanwhile, Germany has formally recognised crimes committed by its colonial troops at the beginning of the 20th century against the Namibian people as genocide.
Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said in a statement on Friday that as a ‘gesture of recognition of the immeasurable suffering’, Germany would fund projects worth 1.1 billion euros over 30 years in Namibia.
The aim is to compensate the southern African nation for the role Germany played in committing genocide and property seizures in its-then colony more than a century ago, he said.
Maas said the alleged reconciliation came after more than half a decade of efforts. It includes naming the events of the German colonial period in particular the atrocities in the period from 1904 to 1908 ‘without sparing or glossing over’.
‘We will now, also in an official capacity, call these events what they were from today’s perspective — a genocide,’ Maas said even though he did not offer an apology.
Namibian President Hage Geingob’s spokesman Alfredo Hengari welcomed the move.
‘The acceptance on the part of Germany that a genocide was committed is the first step in the right direction,’ he said.
Thousands of Herero and Nama tribes were massacred by German colonial forces between 1904 and 1908, after the local population waged an uprising against German rule in the colony, then named German South West Africa.
Survivors were then forced into the desert, where many ended up in brutal concentration camps and used as slave labour while many perished from cold, malnutrition and exhaustion.
Herero paramount Chief Vekuii Rukoro blasted the proclaimed ‘agreement’ as a ‘sellout,’ insisting: ‘We have a problem with that kind of an agreement, which we feel constitutes a complete sellout on the part of the Namibian government.’
Rukoro, who unsuccessfully sued Germany for compensation in the United States, said the purported settlement was not enough for the two Namibian communities which had suffered ‘irreversible harm’ at the hands of the German colonial forces.
An estimated 65,000 of the 80,000 Herero living in German South West Africa, and 10,000 of an estimated 20,000 Namas reportedly perished during the period.
Germany ruled Namibia from 1884 until it lost the colony during World War I. In 1920, the territory was placed under the South African administration until 1990 when it gained independence from the Apartheid regime.
Berlin last week, categorically ruled out financial reparations forming part of a planned formal apology to Namibia for Germany’s colonial atrocities, amid fears such payments could set a legal precedent for further claims.
Angela Merkel’s government has since 2014 negotiated with Namibia to ‘heal the wounds’ of what historians call the first genocide of the 20th century.
Berlin in 2018 returned skulls and other remains of massacred tribes people that were used in the colonial-era experiments to proclaim racial superiority of Europeans.
The German government has previously admitted ‘moral responsibility’ for the brutal carnage of the Namibian people, but has avoided an official apology in efforts to evade compensation demands.
Germany’s decision came after French President Emmanuel Macron also refused to apologise over his country’s clear role in the 1994 Rwandan genocide of 800,000 people during a speech he delivered on Thursday in Kigali.
The French president has given no ‘clear apology’ over France’s role in the 1994 Rwandan genocide, survivors say.
Rwanda published a report earlier this year showing that the former colonial power was aware that a genocide in 1994 was in the making.
According to the report, France bore responsibility for enabling the genocide by continuing firm support for Rwanda’s then-president Juvenal Habyarimana.
‘French officials armed, advised, trained, equipped, and protected the Rwandan government,’ the report concluded, adding that the European country covered up its role for years.
The massacres began after Habyarimana’s plane was shot down, killing him on April 6, 1994. A report by a French inquiry panel in March revealed that a colonial attitude had blinded French officials. It said the French government bore a ‘serious and overwhelming’ responsibility for not preventing the slaughter.