Local council election results released Wednesday morning in the Syrian town of Saraqib, in the countryside of Idlib province, declared victory for Muthena al Mohammad over his competitor, Ibrahim Barri, by fifty votes.
The Syrian weekly newspaper “Zeitoun,” wrote that the winner, Muthena Abd al Kareem al Mohammad, who was born in Saraqib in 1976, is a graduate of the Aleppo University Law School. According to “Zeitoun,” Al Mohammad previously headed the Saraqib local council and was a member of the Liberal Idlib Bar Association among his many involvements.
Another publication, news web page “Saraqib Today” reported that 4499 voters turned out to the voting booth on Tuesday from 8 AM to 8 PM to elect the president of the local council and members of the council’s executive office.
These elections are considered the first of their kind in the opposition-controlled areas of Syria, as they are based on the principle of general elections rather than the customary creation of an electoral body to select members of the council. According to Mohammad Salama, member of the election committee and “interim” government correspondent for The Syrian Voice, voting was open to the general public of Saraqib in accordance with the civil restrictions that voters be over 18 years old and born in the town.
Salama added that “these elections were distinguished by strong female attendance and by the way the citizens came together to achieve their capacity to hold popular elections.” Eight ballot stations were opened, with three designated for women, though Salama noted that all the candidates were men.
Salama pointed out that the message of this election is “under the lessening of tensions, the opposition areas are able to hold general elections in all areas.” Salama indicated that voter participation reached 55.3 percent, a decent amount considering the current conditions.
Local media expressed the view that the people’s involvement in the election of their local council represents “a response to the extremist organizations’ depiction of democracy as a ‘trap.’”
The elections come at a time when citizens in Idlib are suffering from an increasingly strained security situation as a result of hostilities that developed into fighting between the groups Tahrir al-Sham and Ahrar l-Sham on Tuesday evening and into Wednesday. The fighting has disrupted the lives of civilians in the area and obstructed their movement, particularly since its spread from the southern countryside of Idlib to the east and north.
This province, which emerged from government control in 2015, has witnessed a debate around a popular campaign calling for the raising and adoption of the “Syrian revolution flag,” followed by the raising of “black flags.” The provincial council and political body of Idlib issued a joint statement backing the supporters of the revolution flag, stressing the necessity of its adoption in in all internal and external correspondence.