Syria & Lebanon

Assad postpones parliamentary elections for second time

On Thursday, the Syrian authorities announced the postponement of parliamentary elections scheduled for this month for the second time, within the framework of a series of precautionary measures taken by the government to combat the coronavirus pandemic.

The presidency office stated in a post on social media: “As part of the state’s precautionary measures to combat the coronavirus pandemic, President Bashar Al-Assad issued a decree to postpone the legislative elections of members of the People’s Assembly for the third legislative round scheduled for 20 May to 19 July.”

In March, the Syrian authorities postponed the legislative elections, which had been scheduled for 13 April, to 20 May.

To date, the Syrian government has recorded 44 new cases of infection with COVID-19 in the areas under its control, including three deaths. The Kurdish-led Autonomous Administration (AA) in northeast Syria has detected three cases, including one death.

The Syrian government had taken several measures in March to curb the spread of the pandemic, but it had recently started to alleviate them as the economic situation in the country worsened.

With the night curfew still imposed, the government decided last week to reopen the markets during the daytime, in addition to reactivating public transport between the cities and the countryside. The Syrian authorities announced on Wednesday that universities and schools will resume their activities starting from the end of May.

The Ministry of Endowments also announced that as of next Friday, mosques will be reopened “for Friday prayers only” in accordance with “specific health precautions”.

Al-Assad warned on Monday of a potential “real catastrophe” that could exceed his country’s “health and logistical capacities” in the event of a sudden and massive surge of infections, stressing that the easing of preventive measures should be accompanied by obligatory health precautions to limit the spread of the virus.

He also considered that the quarantine procedures made: “All the Syrian citizens, in general and regardless of their social class, face two difficult scenarios: either to starve or to catch the disease.”

The war in Syria has killed more than 380,000 people, and led to the displacement of more than half of the population inside and outside the country. The country’s infrastructure was also destroyed; the economy was drained and various sectors were devastated, while the national health facilities have been severely damaged.

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