DAMASCUS — The Syrian government said Friday that the UN-Arab League envoy had overstepped his role as mediator by criticizing plans to hold a presidential election amid the civil war.
“The comments of Lakhdar Brahimi about the presidential election do not fall within the framework of his mission,” state television quoted Information Minister Omran Zohbi as saying.
“Brahimi must respect his role as mediator, and be honest and impartial. His comments exceeded his authority,” Zohbi said.
Brahimi had expressed concern that going ahead with a planned presidential election in the coming months could make further peace negotiations impossible.
“If there is an election, my suspicion is the opposition, all the oppositions, will probably not be interested in talking to the government,” Brahimi told the UN Security Council.
Syria’s parliament approved a law Thursday that would effectively bar any member of the exiled opposition from running in the election, virtually guaranteeing that President Bashar Assad would win another seven-year term.
The external opposition and rebels fighting on the ground have insisted they will not accept any peace agreement that does not include Assad’s exit from power.
Two rounds of peace talks hosted by Brahimi earlier this year made no visible progress towards ending the civil war, which has claimed an estimated 140,000 lives and displaced millions of people over the last three years.