Syrians on Monday headed to about 14,500 ballot boxes nationwide to take part in the municipal elections for the country’s 14 governorates, a move that is considered as a showcase of Syria’s new democracy at a time when the unabated violence in some flash points scores new victims.
The elections, held every four years, come at a time when Syria is facing unparalleled internal and external pressures and is struggling to hunt down what it called terrorist gangs messing with its security and stability and carrying out foreign agenda to spark chaos and instability in the country. According to official statistics, 42,889 candidates were competing for 17,588 council seats, as some 14,500 ballot boxes have been distributed over 7,500 electoral center across Syria.
Minister of Local Administration Omar Ghalawanji urged Syrians to vote and practice their “constitutional right in choosing their representatives at the local administration council.” “The Syrian people are showing a determination to complete the construction of democratic life that is no longer a mere slogan but rather a genuine practice cherished throughout the past years,” state-run SANA news agency quoted Ghalawanji as saying.
He addressed the Syrians by saying: “the local councils which you will elect have an obligation to achieve your expectations.”
Khaled Kamel, head of local councils at the Local Administration Ministry, was quoted by SANA as saying that the ministry has ended its preparations, including secret rooms, “in a way that citizens would free during voting.”
For his side, Mohammad Habash, a parliamentarian, said the list of the National Progressive Front that combines 10 parties inside Syria mainly the ruling Baath party, has been replaced by a new list called the “List of National Unity,” which, he said, combines new candidates who don’t belong to the NPF parties.