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Assad challenger: Opposition or cover for regime?

May 14th, 2014
03:46 PM ET

By Mick Krever, CNN

The task: Challenge a dictator in the middle of a devastating civil war that has killed well over 100,000 people.

That’s what facing the two candidates running against Bashar al-Assad in Syria; the government announced elections due to take place on June 3.

“I hope Assad will go and I will take his position,” Hassan al-Nouri, one of the two approved candidates, told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Wednesday. “This is why I'm running for this election.”

Maybe so, but pre-war elections in Syria have usually been nothing more than a simple referendum on Assad’s rule.

“Let me tell you, this is Syria,” he told Amanpour. “In Syria, we have a constitution [which requires] a new presidential election 60 days before the end of the current president's time.”

“And I do believe that this is our right; this is our freedom. We own our decisions. This is a national decision.”

The election, he says, is an opportunity to showcase his vision for the country. But that vision differs little from President Assad’s when it comes to fighting those in the country who wish to see the government toppled.

“I am criticizing the president in many different areas,” he said. “I was member of his government.”

“And you know, I spent only two years as a minister of administrative development. You know why they kick me out? They kick me out because they couldn't handle what I was saying, and how I was criticizing his government.”

“But I cannot stand against Assad on the way of fighting terrorism in Syria.”

Al-Nouri was raised in the United States, he said, and is still often referred to as a “Wisconsin Badger.”

His chances of winning next month’s elections, he said, “are not bad.”

“I'm not saying that my chances are better than President Assad. But I can see that I am doing fine until now in this campaign.”

Is the fact that huge parts of the country will be unable to vote, Amanpour asked, good for his chances?

“I wish the situation was better, and of course it's not good enough for me,” he said. “You know, the number of people who are able to vote in Syria [is] probably between 14 million and 15 million,” out of a total of a little more than 22 million.

“Let's see what is the percentage that will go to vote. In our constitution, this percentage should be fifty plus one. If not, then the election probably will not be approved.”

Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Latest Episode • Syria
soundoff (13 Responses)
  1. YouAssumeMuchandContributeLittle

    Stoooooooooooooggggggeeeeee. Syrian Democracy brought to you by China, Russia and Iran. LOL

    May 14, 2014 at 8:06 pm | Reply
  2. RLTJ's

    Syria has been under a single party system for a while. A condition typical of dictatorial systems could be present. There can be genuine apposition in Syria today but I think their chances in elections are dim and nil.

    The country's elites would likely go for status quo. Opposition is not likely well organized.

    I think a two or a multiple party system should be developed to bring Syria's politics toward western types of democracy.

    May 14, 2014 at 8:52 pm | Reply
    • RLTJ's

      They will need time.

      May 14, 2014 at 8:53 pm | Reply
  3. freddie

    This election is as relevant as the pro west election in Ukraine. Does Amanpour also reject that Kiev election this month as a sham?

    May 14, 2014 at 9:48 pm | Reply
  4. freddie

    And the sham of an election by Kiev and the CIA is supposed to be a good thing?

    May 14, 2014 at 9:49 pm | Reply
  5. eyeonukraine

    Hmmm, there are two groups in that "Syrian" opposition : them baddies Al Qaeda something? And then there are the opportunistic stooges. We know about them Al Qaeda guys – they love nothing but kill us all if they have the chance. Doing things in Syria is just to establish their own nation, a base to attack us; as to the other group – they want our help to topple someone, establish their own base, then chase us out and establish their nation under those sharia law thing. Either way, they are our enemy, not friend. Yet we are supporting these guys. Strange strategy the west holds.

    May 14, 2014 at 11:34 pm | Reply
  6. RLTJ's

    problem is if the conflict is religious or racial. They are hopeless.

    In those cases, either the world should take sides or the world should close their eyes and do nothing about it. Either way only means the same thing: One must die and the other must live. One must rule and the other is persecuted. That's the way to peace.

    Another way to peace is: if both sides will abide by secularism.

    When the solution is: People should agree

    May 15, 2014 at 5:34 am | Reply
    • RLTJ's

      When the solution is: People should agree [ this should have been deleted]

      May 15, 2014 at 5:36 am | Reply
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