A civil war, use of chemical weapons, and more than 100,000 deaths in three years are just some of the issues currently being faced by controversial Syrian President, Bashar al-Assad, yet that doesn’t seem to deter the country’s leader from standing for re-election next year.
Mr Assad has been at the centre of some of the biggest debates of the year, yet a senior Syrian official has now warned that nobody has the right to stand in the way of a second term in office for the 48-year-old.
In an interview with AFP, Syria Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Muqdad was responding to comments made from allied Russian officials criticising another term in office for the current leader.
“Nobody has the right to interfere and say he must run or he should not run,” Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Muqdad said.
“President Assad in my opinion should be a candidate but he will decide when the time comes for him to decide.
“I shall ask the opposition: why a Syrian national does not have the right to be a candidate? Who can prevent him? Any Syrian national can be candidate. The ballot boxes will decide who will lead Syria.”
Russia earlier on Thursday issued rare criticism of its ally Assad over the presidential election scheduled for next year.
“Exchanging such rhetorical statements just makes the atmosphere heavier and does not make the situation calmer,” Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov said.
Mr Bogdanov added that Mr Assad, and all parties, should not do anything hasty before peace talks in Switzerland in January are commenced, which are aimed at ending the conflict which has been raging in Syria since 2011.
Mr Muqdad responded by explaining how his country has formed a nine-member delegation supported by five advisers to take part in the so-called Geneva-2 peace talks brokered by the United States and Russia.
“We are ready by all means and will announce the names of our delegation very quickly,” he said.
“We shall see the results of the discussions because the Americans are given the task of establishing an opposition delegation. The Americans are expected to give the names tomorrow.”
Muqdad also had harsh words for Saudi Arabia, which has supported rebels fighting to oust Assad.
“I think that if the world wants to avoid another 11 September incident, they must start telling Saudi Arabia ‘enough is enough’,” he said.
“Saudi Arabia should be put on the list of countries supporting terrorism,” said Muqdad, while rejecting opposition to the participation at the peace talks for Syria’s ally Iran.
Mr Muqdad said: “It’s a tragedy that the French and the Americans are insisting that Iran will not attend while Saudi Arabia which is destroying Syria will attend…It is absolutely unacceptable.”
The peace talks are set to begin on the 22nd January 2014.