Days after the eruption of anti-regime protests in the southern Syrian city of Sweida in rejection of the upcoming presidential elections, the government in Damascus announced that it was allotting 5 billion liras in support of the province.
Official media sources said Prime Minister Hussein Arnous, accompanied by 13 ministers, paid a visit to the province on Sunday.
This was the first official government team to visit the province in years. An opposition outlet said that concerned municipal authorities had cleaned the streets of the city for the first time in years ahead of the arrival of the government team.
Local sources said the visit was aimed at easing the tensions ahead of the elections, which incumbent president Bashar Assad is expected to win.
They blamed the tensions on the lavish spending celebratory electoral rallies that have been sponsored by local security and party branches and which appear to have provoked the people, who are suffering from very dire living conditions.
Days ago, unknown people defaced an electoral poster of Assad. Authorities immediately removed it.
Dozens of locals also recently released a statement announcing their complete rejection of the elections, which they described as a farce.
They added that the elections were an attempt to promote the Assad regime “that has committed war crimes against the Syrian people over the years and brought in various forms of occupation to the country to cement his hold on power over piles of skulls and destruction.”
Dozens of Sweida locals had last week signed a statement, issued by intellectual figures, denouncing the “inappropriate” celebrations that have recently been held in Sweida.
They said the celebrations do not reflect the “sacrifices and dignity” of the locals of a province, “whose people have been displaced and impoverished by the regime.”
Baath party officials, militia leaders and other regime loyalists have been holding constant celebrations in Sweida ahead of Wednesday’s elections. Several party leaders have visited the locals to persuade them to join the rallies, saying it was their “national duty.”