UK's William Hague attacks Assad's Syria elections plan

 

William Hague read out an agreed statement in which the Friends of Syria vowed further help for Syria's opposition

Presidential elections in Syria will be a "parody of democracy", UK Foreign Secretary William Hague has said.

Mr Hague said Syria's government had an "utter disregard" for life, and President Bashar al-Assad decision to call an election for 3 June "disgusted" the international community.

The foreign secretary also announced the Syrian opposition would have its diplomatic status in the UK upgraded.

Syria's three-year conflict has left some 150,000 people dead.

The UK is continuing to push for President Assad to stand down, but he has sought a third seven-year term in the elections.

'Illegitimate'

Mr Hague hosted a meeting of the The Friends of Syria group - made up of Egypt, France, Germany, Italy, Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, the UK and the US - in London.

Afterwards, he said: "We are of course united in our disgust and anger at what's happening in Syria and the ruthless utter disregard for human life."

The group agreed a short communique criticising the decision to hold an election at a time when millions of people were displaced and the bloodshed was continuing.

Mr Hague called on the whole international community to "reject these illegitimate elections", saying: "We've also agreed unanimously to take further steps to... do everything we can to hold the Assad regime accountable for the terror it is perpetrating."

He promised the UK government would increase its humanitarian efforts, with £30m of extra funding.

A Foreign Office spokeswoman said this money would be used for "a range of different things including helping the opposition and supporting regional sustainability".

In a separate media briefing, US Secretary of State John Kerry commented on France's claim that the Assad government has used chemical weapons at least 14 times since October.

He said he had seen "raw data that suggests that there may have been... a number of instances in which chlorine has been used in the conduct of war".

Mr Kerry added: "If it has, and it could be proven, then that would be against the agreements of the chemical weapons treaty and against the weapons convention that Syria has signed up to."

"Out of today's meeting, every facet of what can be done is going to be ramped up - every facet. That includes political effort. It includes aid to the opposition. It includes economic efforts, sanctions," he said.

Friends of Syria was set up in 2012 in response to moves by Russia and China to block UN resolutions against the Assad government.

The meeting comes days after UN special envoy Lakhdar Brahimi stepped down over lack of progress in ending the crisis.

 

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  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 489.

    The irony is the "Rebels" worst enemies isn't the government now but the extremists who are fighting for their own agenda and using any means to do it. What The FOS group hasn't or/and most likely doesn't care about is even if they overthrow Assad it'll either be Libya all over again with a weak leadership leading to more instability or Islamic extremists calling the shots.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 488.

    We in Syria have an anecdote which tells of a woman boiling pebbles to dupe her hungry children that she is cooking food for them so that they'll stop crying.The Western powers are doing the same to shut up the Syrian people.The choice is very clear: the certainty that Iran will prevaile if the regime wins or the faint possibility that extreme islamists will dominate. The latter are easy to defeat

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 487.

    486 posts, and not 1 to say that we should intervene, or the logistics involved,or those very good statesmanlike reasons why the UK simply MUST take the lead.Time for all of us to give this up,as there is no sway of opinion to tell us how wrong we are to say "No" to yet another proposed foreign war.Let us sit this one out, and say no more aid until the USA, Eurozone, Moslem World, etc.,contribute

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 486.

    "the UK is continuing to push for President Assad to stand down, but he has sought a third seven-year term in the elections"
    So who do they want to replace him the nice chaps the Americans are backing I.s.i.s I believe there called. Hague maybe talk instead of the Sunni slaughter houses butchering the minority christians. It's strange how you don't care for this potential genocide.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 485.

    It's no coincidence that the current enemies of the west represent the last resistence to the global banking cartels and therefore they must go. Covert funding and arming of terrorists resulting in regime change and if that doesn't work, send in the cruise missiles. One way or another, the sovereignty of every nation will be lost. Iraq, Libya, Syria - they all have or had public central banks.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 484.

    The only thing that's a "parody" Mr. Hague is your foreign policy.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 483.

    @461.

    The Ukraine does not have a Libyan dictator like Gadaffi or Assad or Saddam. The Ukranian people & parliament are not protesting now against their new temporary leader.

    No the protestors & instigators are simply russian agents trying the same take over tactics as in Crimea with russian troops waiting on the border.

    ISAF should now enter the Ukraine with 5-10 thousand peace keepers.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 482.

    People on hear asking why Hague is against democracy in "other countries" , I am surprised at the question as I thought everyone knew by now that politicians don't want democracy anywhere as most of them would be out of a job

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 481.

    John Kerry throwing another unverified claim of chemical weapons usage , will he again pluck some magical number (1429) out of the sky ?

    When he quoted that magic number last year he was not made to provide any evidence even though no other source claimed such a high (or accurate !) number of casualties/deaths.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 480.

    @478.

    The west (governments & most people) support democracy, not murderous dictators. Assad is a dictator, is it better for a leader to resign or destroy his whole country & hundreds of thousands of people & should the world not encourage Assad's resignation & fair UN verified elections ??

    Many people in the Ukraine wanted a new leader & democracy, not a russian puppet.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 479.

    Quote from William Hague "We are of course united in our disgust and anger at what's happening in Syria and the ruthless utter disregard for human life."

    Would that be the "rebels" who :
    1. Murdered 48 people in a blast near the Turkish border.?
    2. Shot a Times journalist in the legs and beat up him and his colleague ?

    I used the term "rebels" as it seems the BBC refuse to call them terrorists !

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 478.

    In Ukraine a democratically elected president was evicted by a howling mob, just imagine that in UK. We evict Cameron by rioting! In both Ukraine & Syria the "West" now supports illegal " take overs" by (in some cases) terrorists because it suits their anti Russian/Assad policies. Just who are the good guys here??

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 477.

    It has to be proven who has been using these chlorine & chemical weapons, Syria or the rebels ?

    On other world issues & international treaties it seems that many countries are selfishly happy to do nothing & let evil continue. Whereas some countries like many western countries who get accused of being the world's police at least try to do something to uphold international rules & can be proud.

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 476.

    @453.

    The elections in Syria will be run by a dictator who has been in power for way to long, do you think they will be fair ? Or is this a case where some countries like Russia don't want fair elections because they are scared of extremists maybe being elected who won't want to be russian puppets?

    The Crimea election was full of mistakes & without proper security & checks.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 475.

    Reckon that this topic has been done to death,every argument has been raised,EXCEPT the "Whys", "Hows" ,"WHO Withs" and "Whens" of any Western Military Involvement, I think it is that anyone of that view can see no reasons,for there are no reasons, to send our Armed Forces into action, and so their silence is golden,though their eyes can see the views expressed here and elsewhere.

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 474.

    Yes no one should want to rush in & be involved in wars. This Syria war is also complicated with Russia & Iran heavily involved & why should "onward christian soldiers" get involved & pay the costs & lives & get no thanks for trying to stop the war & human suffering.

    One issue is Syria using chlorine & chemical weapons against the treaty they signed & should other countries just ignore this ?

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 473.

    There's 'bad guys' (using an Americanism) on both sides. Siding with one over the other is effectively subsidising terrorism.

    And why are we so arrogant to sit up way up high in our moral ivory embellished towers telling other nations what to do?

    The age of the empire is over. Time to concentrate on putting our own house in order, before involving ourselves (again) in foreign conflicts.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 472.

    I deplore the lack of leadership and moral fibre on the whole question of Syria, the world seems to just wring its hands as thousands die or are displaced. It does not bode well for the future at all. Edmund Burke wrote:
    „All that is needed for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing”

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 471.

    I take it Tony Blair and Gordon Brown .Will be helping Assad .TONY.B has previous on how to get a none elected in the P.Ms Job.

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 470.

    Hague is the worst foreign secretary we have ever had. He only wants to be an American poodle and suck up to Saudi Arabia for their oil.

    He just doesn't get it! The British public have said no to intervention in Syria or supporting a rabble of Saudi / US backed Islamists.

    Our politicians have learned nothing from Iraq or Afghanistan.

 

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    10:27: Campaign countdown
    Labour MP Mike O'Brian

    There are marginal constituencies across the UK that will signpost which way this election will go. Our Midlands political editor, Patrick Burns, is in Coleshill in Warwickshire - the second most marginal seat in Britain with a Conservative majority of just 54. Labour Parliamentary candidate Mike O'Brian says he thinks it will be a Labour-Tory fight. He says the government's planned high-speed rail route could be a major issue affecting voters.

     
  59.  
    10:14: Polling matters BBC News Channel

    Is a hung Parliament the most likely outcome of the general election?

    More from Ipsos Mori's Ben Page: "A hung Parliament seems to be the most likely outcome... It could change but in 2005 the polls in January were pretty accurate predictions of what happened in May.

    "Polls are just what people are saying now. But the ones that were done in the week of the election back in 2010 were accurate to about plus or minus 1.1% for each party, which I think you'd agree is pretty good actually."

     
  60.  
    #nofracking trending on Twitter

    @suesmee tweets: As my MP, I'd like @neil_mp to vote against Cuadrilla getting the right to drill under my home - without my permission! #nofracking

    @loobylou43 tweets: I'm really hoping my MP @andrewpercy will vote for amendment 51 to the #infrastructurebill today #nofracking

     
  61.  
    10:06: Polling matters BBC News Channel
    Ben Page

    Ben Page, head of the research company Ipsos Mori, has been talking about polls leading up to the election: "Over the last month or so effectively what you've seen is Labour maybe one point ahead of the Conservatives.

    "That is a change on a year ago and they've gradually seen their lead evaporate effectively - but they are neck and neck and nobody seems to come up with something that allows them to break free of the other. It's a war of the weak in a sense."

     
  62.  
    10:04: 100 Constituencies Matthew Price BBC News

    Two interesting comments from voters here in Thurrock. First Harris, a scrap metal dealer. "What people are worried about has changed in the last five to 10 years." That will affect their vote he believes. He's voting UKIP. Second from Linda at Slimming World. "If my dad was alive and I told him I was going to vote anybody else but Labour he'd lynch me. But now you've got so many different parties. Green party, UKIP, what-have-you." It's going to be an unpredictable election.

    The BBC's Today programme will be visiting 100 constituencies between now and polling day.

     
  63.  
    09:56: Greek election fallout

    The right-wing Independent Greeks party has agreed to form a coalition with the Syriza party - which won Sunday's election. You can find out all the latest on this developing story and its implications on the BBC's dedicated Greece live page.

     
  64.  
    Robin Brant Political Correspondent, BBC News

    tweets: re: cameron hoax call, 'blagging' has been an offence since 2000 under the Data Protection Act 1998...

     
  65.  
    09:47: Hoax calls BBC Radio 4 Today
    Jon Culshaw

    Listen as comedian Jon Culshaw relives the moment he successfully hoax called Tony Blair as he impersonated William Hague, then leader of the opposition. It follows the headline from the The Sun newspaper from a drunk man claiming to have "just made complete monkeys out of GCHQ". The caller says the country's surveillance agency, who gave him the personal mobile number of their boss, also got through to the Prime Minister David Cameron.

     
  66.  
    09:41: Breaking News Mark Lowen BBC News, Athens

    It took just an hour of talks between two party leaders for the coalition to be formed. Greece's new government will comprise the leftists Syriza and a rightwing party, Independent Greeks, also fiercely anti-bailout but far more hardline on other policies such as immigration. Alexis Tsipras will see the President later today and be asked to to form a government. He will then argue he has the democratic mandate to revoke the budget cuts and persuade Europe to write off a portion of Greek debt. It'll meet a cool reception from Brussels and Berlin. Tough negotiations lie ahead to find a compromise that prevents Greece from defaulting on its debt: something that could threaten the country's place in the Euro.

     
  67.  
    09:36: Lord Mandelson warning
    Lord Mandelson

    Labour peer Lord Mandelson is warning today that his party must plan properly for a possible coalition with the Liberal Democrats. He tells the Guardian that while an outright victory is still possible, it is not defeatism to consider the consequences of a failure to win a majority.

     
  68.  
    09:33: Your comments: Fracking

    An influential committee of MPs has called for a moratorium on fracking on the grounds that it could derail efforts to tackle climate change. Paul writes: This is absolutely correct. We need to do the right thing out of principle. The only justification for fracking is greed and short term gain. Tim comments: This group of MPs is called influential. Influential but ignorant would be closer to the mark and that's a scary combination.

    Add your views via the comments module on our news story.

     
  69.  
    09:26: NHS concerns Hugh Pym Health editor

    Looking further ahead - the really big question for all parties is how they will fund the NHS over the next five years, particularly at a time, seemingly, of continued austerity. There's also an increasing and aging population, and patients are looking for better access to new drugs.

     
  70.  
    09:21: Questions for Nick
    Nick Robinson

    Are politicians delivering what you want? The BBC's Nick Robinson will be holding a Facebook Q&A about democracy - linked to his current Radio 4 series - at 13:30 GMT.

     
  71.  
    09:17: Campaign issues

    With 101 days to go the BBC has been finding out what issue most concerns you ahead of the election. The NHS emerged as the most important issue for those surveyed, ahead of the economy and immigration.

    Stats
     
  72.  
    09:15: Digital democracy
    House of Parliament

    We have been reporting on the launch of the Speaker's Commission on Digital Democracy this morning. In addition to encouraging online voting and more public participation in debates, one of its five objectives is to "ensure that everyone can understand" what the House of Commons does by 2020. As part of this, it says parliamentary language and procedures should be "simplified".

     
  73.  
    09:10: Hoax call to No 10
    Priti Patel

    Speaking to the BBC about the hoax call made to David Cameron, Treasury minister Priti Patel says "the most important thing right now is that no sensitive information was disclosed". She also stresses there will be a "full investigation" into what happened.

     
  74.  
    09:08: 100 constituencies Matthew Price BBC News
    Colin

    If Conservatives are to see off a double challenge from both UKIP and Labour in Thurrock they'll need core voters like Colin the car dealer to stick with them. He says he wants the current economic policy to continue so he does want David Cameron back in.

    (There is more on the BBC Today programme's 100 constituencies feature at 0755)

     
  75.  
    09:00: Archive treat 100: Robin Day v George Brown Alex Hunt Politics editor, BBC News Online

    Each day from now until 7 May we'll be bringing you a classic election clip from the BBC archives. We've already selected a fair few but do feel free to suggest some via email at politics@bbc.co.uk or via Twitter @bbcpolitics. Here's the first one -

    Robin Day interviewing George Brown

    If you think it all used to be honey and roses for political interviewees here's an election night clip from 1964 as BBC host Robin Day gets on the wrong side of the deputy leader of the Labour Party, George Brown, when quizzing him on the potential nationalisation of the steel industry.

     
  76.  
    08:56: Osborne full interview BBC Radio 4 Today

    The full BBC interview with Chancellor George Osborne is now online.

    Reacting to the anti-austerity party Syriza's win in the Greek elections, Mr Osborne told Today: "If your economy has shrunk you are going to look for other answers...the things the new government has promised, it's going to be very difficult to deliver."

    On Europe he added: "The institutions of the Eurozone are not working well enough for the people of Europe...people get tired of economic failure and rising unemployment."

     
  77.  
    BBC Politics

    tweets: The 2015 general election will be unlike any other http://bbc.in/1D8M48K

     
  78.  
    08:49: Fracking concerns BBC News Channel

    Joan Walley, chairwoman of the Commons Environmental Audit Committee, has told the BBC that they want the move to shale gas to be put on hold because of environmental and safety concerns. You can read more about their report here.

    Joan Walley
     
  79.  
    @robinbrant Robin Brant, BBC political correspondent

    tweets: It's back in action, up and running, primed for daily updates. The @BBCPolitics elex countdownerer @ChrisMasonBBC

    White board
     
  80.  
    Imelda Flattery BBC News

    tweets: Alexis Tsipras expected to speak to gathered journalists shortly. #Greece

    Media scrum
     
  81.  
    08:29: Greek election fallout

    More from the BBC's interview with Yanis Varoufakis, an economist who stood for Greece's Syriza party in the elections. He says a Greek exit from the eurozone is "not on the cards", and the party is not going to go to Brussels "in a confrontational style".

     
  82.  
    BBC Radio 4 Today

    tweets: 'We will take a plan to the #eurozone to minimise this Greek debacle' #Syriza candidate Yanis Varoufakis #R4today

     
  83.  
    08:22: New role for Lord Smith
    Lord Smith

    Lord Smith of Kelvin is to take on another high-profile role, after agreeing to chair of one of Scotland's largest regeneration projects. Lord Smith, who chaired the Smith Commission on Scottish devolution, will lead Clyde Gateway on delivering the post-2014 Commonwealth Games legacy. The work focuses on regenerating Glasgow's east end. Lord Smith was chairman of the Commonwealth Games organising committee and has a number of other top roles. They include chairing Forth Ports and the Green Investment Bank. He will take up his new unpaid role as chairman of Clyde Gateway next month

     
  84.  
    08:18: Hoax call to No 10 Norman Smith BBC Assistant Political Editor

    No 10 stress the PM's phone number was not given out to the hoaxer. However he was put through to the PM by the switchboard.

     
  85.  
    @BBCGen2015 BBC Generation 2015

    tweets: DEADLINE: Just 1 week for 18-24s to sign up to @BBCGen2015 to take part in BBC Election progs

     
  86.  
    @bbcnickrobinson Nick Robinson, BBC Political Editor

    tweets: The Speaker wants you to be able to join in MPs debates & vote online. Good idea? Join in my Q&A on F'book at 1.30 (read more about the online voting plans)

     
  87.  
    08:10: 100 constituencies
    Working men's club

    This will help you put a face to some of the voices in Matthew Price's pre-election package from a working men's club in Tilbury, Thurrock (see 0755). Clearly this was pre-recorded, they weren't drinking on Monday morning.

     
  88.  
    08:05: Hoax call to No 10 BBC Radio 5 live

    The Surveillance Camera Commissioner for England and Wales Tony Porter has told 5 Live Breakfast that the hoax calls to GCHQ and Downing Street were a "concern" and it "doesn't reassure the public and the community". He also said "there'll be a lot of work to eradicate [it]".

     
  89.  
    Andy Burnham Shadow health secretary

    tweets: Warning from @nhsconfed & @LGAcomms about crisis in NHS & care. Labour's 10 year-plan, out tomorrow, offers solution> http://bit.ly/1wxprWw

     
  90.  
    @RobbieGibb

    tweets: On today's #bbcdp - @DouglasCarswell (UKIP), @spelmanc (Con), Andy Slaughter (Lab) and @MartinChelt (Lib Dem)

     
  91.  
    07:55: 100 constituencies BBC Radio 4 Today

    The BBC's Matthew Price has been at a working men's club in Tilbury, Thurrock as part of the Today programme's tour of 100 constituencies in the run-up to the general election. One voter says the Tories have "sold England off, never vote for them" but won't vote UKIP as they are too far "anti-immigration". At a nearby slimming club, one woman says she is undecided and may not vote for the party her family has traditionally supported: "You've got so many different parties, at the end of the day you have to weigh up what is right for you".

     
  92.  
    07:51: Greece dominates papers
    Telegraph/Times front pages

    Many of today's newspapers concentrate on the fallout from the dramatic general election in Greece - won by the left-wing anti-austerity Syriza party. The BBC's paper review gives a roundup of reports.

     
  93.  
    07:44: Hoax caller to No 10 Norman Smith BBC Assistant Political Editor

    Incredible as it may seem the prankster managed to obtain mobile numbers for both the head of the GCHQ surveillance centre and the prime minister by bluffing his way past both sets of switchboards. Having been put through to the GCHQ boss Robert Hannigan, he then rang the Sun newspaper to boast of his exploits. According to The Sun he told them "he'd made monkeys" out of GCHQ despite being high on drink and drugs. Not satisfied with all that, the hoaxer then succeeded in getting put through to the prime minister. No 10 say Mr Cameron realised "within a matter of seconds" it was a hoax call and put the phone down. They also say no sensitive information was disclosed - and that they have no reason to believe the caller was anything other than a prankster. Nevertheless in an era of heightened terror alert and anxious political debate over increased surveillance - it would suggest simple human error can be a greater vulnerability.

     
  94.  
    07:42: Greek election fallout

    More from Chancellor George Osborne on the Greek election result: "Ultimately if you take at face value all the things that the new Greek government has promised - including big increases in public expenditure - you know, I think that is going to be very difficult to deliver, and incompatible with what the Eurozone currently demands of its members. But I hope that both sides now act responsibly."

     
  95.  
    @bbcNormanS Norman Smith, BBC assistant political editor

    tweets: Syriza elex victory in Greece is "just the latest chapter in eurozone crisis " - George Osborne @bbcr4today

     
  96.  
    07:24: George Osborne interview BBC Radio 4 Today

    Chancellor George Osborne is quizzed about the recent defection of UKIP MEP Amjad Bashir to the Conservatives. Mr Bashir was suspended by UKIP over various allegations - all of which he denies - shortly before announcing his defection on Saturday.

    Asked about the MEP's past, Mr Osborne told the BBC: "I am certainly not aware of something that I should be worried about."

     
  97.  
    07:16: Greek election fallout

    The landslide Syriza victory in the Greek elections means there are some tough eurozone negotiations on the horizon. The Open Europe blog breaks down what could happen next, and what all of this means for Greece, the eurozone and the EU.

     
  98.  
    07:11: Fracking warning
    A shale gas test well

    An influential committee of MPs has called for a moratorium on fracking on the grounds that it could derail efforts to tackle climate change. The government's drive for shale gas should be put on hold because it would lead to more reliance on fossil fuels, the Environmental Audit Committee said.

     
  99.  
    07:07: 100 constituencies BBC Radio 4 Today

    In what's shaping up to be one of the most unpredictable elections ever, where the prospects of smaller parties and local results could be more crucial than ever in determining who governs Britain, Today will be visiting 100 different constituencies between now and polling day. Recent opinion polls suggest the key barometer seat of Thurrock is now a three way marginal between the Tories, Labour and UKIP. Our correspondent Matthew Price went to hear how voters feel about the pending election.

     
  100.  
    07:05: Election battlegrounds
    election map

    We may not know who will win the next general election but we do know which parts of the country will determine the fates of the political parties. Have a look at the BBC's guide to political battlegrounds of the 2015 general election.

     

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