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Haytham Manna: Unilateralism doomed to fail

4. June 2014

Haytham Manna is a spokesperson of the National Co-ordination Body for Democratic Change (NCB), the main democratic leftist force in Syria. Following extract is a free translation of a text published on the NCB’s website.

The conversation with Haytham was filled with laughter, as he commented on the numbers of voters in Lebanon. He said to Al-Nahar newspaper that the number of Syrians in Lebanon now represents ¼ of the country’s population. Thus they would need 150 polling stations, while today there are two polling stations for women and four for men. Prompted on whether he thought there was a considerable voter turnout in Lebanon, he responded laughing: “what rate?” pointing to visual tricks that can be used to inflate the presence of people on the streets.

He also ridiculed numbers stated in various countries such as the Philippine where reportedly 70% of Syrians voted saying that there probably are only 20 Syrians there.

In his view, “these elections are for the current authority and for the regime and not for the wider society” adding that those that stuck with the regime through thick and thin will very likely stick with him on elections. “We are seeing an election process for part of the Syrian society”. On the political front, Haytham doesn’t see any purpose for these elections. “In effect, there is no tank by the presidential palace waiting to occupy it, and accordingly, elections or no elections Assad is staying”.

He notes that the unilateral procedures have failed citing examples of the governments of Ghassan Hito and Ahmad Tome, the present elections given a laughable participation rate and similarly the referendum on the constitution.

Accordingly, according to him, any discussion on a democratic process is only feasible through national reconciliation and a political settlement.