DAMASCUS, April 23 (Xinhua) -- Amid rejection from the opposition and Western powers, the Syrian government decided to hold a presidential election on June 3, raising concerns as to whether the ballot will end the crisis or see a solution drift further away.
"Personally, I think the elections are a big step toward an early end to the crisis ... When the Syrian state achieves a political and military progress, it imposes a fait accompli, which would push the others to accept it and this would speed up bringing the crisis to an end," said Hmaidi Abdullah, a political analyst.
"Certainly, President Bashar al-Assad will run for the elections and would surely win and I can assure you that the turnout will be more than 50 percent," Abdullah said.
Minority groups in Syria would surely back Assad in the elections due to the protection he has long ensured for them, particularly now that most of those minorities bore the brunt of the crisis when their neighborhoods were attacked by radical groups affiliated with al-Qaida, he said.
The emergence of al-Qaida-linked groups in Syria has even pushed some of the people, who originally sympathized with the rebels, to switch allegiance and choose stability over chaos, he said.
Meanwhile, Maher Murhej, head of the Youth Party, which advocates a middle-of-the-road approach, told Xinhua that the opposition and their backers have "personified" the crisis by stipulating Assad's departure as a prelude to a political solution.
"If President Assad won the elections, the focus on the file of presidency would end and a new horizon for other options would emerge," he said.
"No one can question the legitimacy of Assad if he is re-elected, and this file would be closed so we can focus on solving the crisis rather than focusing on the president," he said.
But not all are as optimistic as he. Two major opposition groups inside Syria, namely the National Coordination Body and the Building Syria's State party, told Xinhua that holding the presidential elections at this time is "inadequate" and would "blow up" the course of the political reconciliation.
The Syrian National Coalition, the main West-backed opposition umbrella, dismisses the elections as "farce" while top United Nations officials have cautioned that they carry a risk of undermining efforts to achieve a political solution to the country's three-year conflict.
Syrian opposition has for long demanded the departure of Assad as a precondition for any political solution, but the Syrian government said the fate of the president can only be decided by Syrians through the ballot boxes.
Observers believe that Assad has a great chance of winning a third seven-year term.
However, no details have yet emerged about the potential candidates, including Assad himself, whose second term will expire on July 17, though he has reportedly expressed interest in a third term.
Assad was unanimously nominated by the Syrian parliament to be president in 2000 following the death of his father, former President Hafez Assad. He was re-elected without opposition in 2007.