DAMASCUS, April 17 (Xinhua) -- Syrian domestically-based opposition groups said Thursday that upcoming presidential elections won't help resolve the country's long-running crisis, noting that the current situation in Syria is not suitable for such elections.
"The presidential elections will not solve the Syrian crisis," Hasan Abdul-Azim, the head of the oppositional National Coordination Body (NCB), told Xinhua in an interview. "The elections can't take place amidst this chaos and violence on one hand and can't resolve the crisis on the other hand."
His remarks came as the war-torn country is bracing for the elections amid objection from Western backers of the Syrian opposition, who called the elections a "parody of democracy."
Still, the Syrian government has said repeatedly the elections will take place on time, and that President Bashar al-Assad is the "real guarantee" for Syria.
Government officials expressed optimism that Assad still enjoys popular support despite the three-year-old conflict.
On Wednesday, Syria's Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad was quoted by the state news agency SANA as stressing that the issue of presidency in the Syria is "non-negotiable."
"President al-Assad is the guarantor of unity in Syria and enjoys overwhelming popular support," he said.
Assad himself, whose second term will expire on July 17, has not yet announced whether he will run for re-elction, but he has reportedly expressed interest in running again for a third seven- year-term.
The opposition groups slammed the plans to hold the elections, saying that such process, under the current circumstances, would " blow up" the political process in Syria.
They questioned the integrity and transparency of such process in the midst of an ongoing war as many places in Syria have been turned into battlefields, making voting there almost impossible. The country also has millions of displaced people in neighboring countries.
Abdul-Azim, of the NCB, said even if the presidential elections does take place, "the problems will persist and the bloody conflict, as well as the destruction and displacement, will also persist."
He stressed that his group "will neither present any candidate from the opposition to the presidential elections, nor participate in such elections."
A political solution should first be reached during the upcoming round of the Geneva II conference, an internationally- backed meeting in Geneva, grouping representatives of the Syrian government and the opposition, Abdul-Azim said.
The first two rounds of the meeting had failed to bring the two warring sides closer, and a third round has been planned but not yet scheduled.
Meanwhile, Anas al-Joudeh, deputy head of the opposition Building Syria State party, also questioned the viability of presidential elections.
"The elections at this time are highly inadequate, because such elections would deepen the political and social schism in Syria," he said. "It's better during this time to embark on a political process, coupled with an extension of the current presidential term, or postponing the presidential elections, until a political solution is achieved."
On the ground, the Syrian army and other loyal forces have been making remarkable victories in their battles against the armed militant groups across Syria, mainly in the central and southern region.
Observers said the fresh series of victories would strengthen the position of Assad ahead of the elections, but al-Joudeh said the military advancement has nothing to do with strengthening Assad's position.
"The increasing military achievements on the ground don't mean that there is a new legitimacy or a capability to embark on elections," he said. "The military balances in this equation have nothing to do with the political process."
"Even if the Syrian administration is capable of wresting control over all of the Syrian areas, it must return to the political process with all of the Syrians," he added.
Despite the opposing voices, preparations for the elections in the war-torn country have started.
Earlier on Thursday, the pan-Arab al-Mayadeen news outlet reported that the presidential elections' process will start on April 21, allowing candidates to submit their applications.
Information Minister Omran al-Zoubi was quoted by the official SANA news agency as saying recently that "the overwhelming majority of Syrians are pressing and calling for President Bashar Al Assad to continue to lead the country as president of the republic."
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 to a second term.
Observers believe that Assad is likely to be re-elected as no one has so far shown intention to run against him.
A general election bill adopted recenlty by the Syrian parliament stipulates that any candidate for presidency must have lived in Syria for 10 consecutive years prior to nomination, a condition that cannot be met by the exiled opposition, whose members have been living outside Syria for years.