Washington (AFP) - The US State Department on Monday condemned legislative elections held in Syria the night before as "rigged" and accused the government of seeking to falsely legitimize itself.
The elections were Syria's third since the start in 2011 of a conflict that has since killed 380,000 people and displaced millions of others, while the government President Bashar al-Assad and its supporters are subject to Western sanctions.
"Bashar Al Assad is seeking to present this dubious election as a success against alleged Western plotting, but in reality it is simply another in a long line of Assad's stage-managed, unfree votes in which the Syrian people have no real choice," State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said in a statement.
In the statement, Ortagus said that Syria has had no "free and fair" elections since Assad's Ba'ath party came to power 50 years ago. She also noted that the millions of Syrians living abroad, most of whom are refugees, were not allowed to vote.
According to a UN Security Council resolution, Ortagus said, Syria's elections are required to be "'free and fair,' 'under the supervision of the United Nations,' and 'with all Syrians,' including those in the diaspora, eligible to participate.
"Until the Assad regime and its government allow and adhere to these conditions the international community will view these rigged elections for what they are: another attempt by the regime to confer false legitimacy on itself and to avoid implementing the political process that UN Security Council Resolution 2254 requires," she concluded.