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Iran Press TV

Syrian President Assad to face two rivals in this month's presidential vote

Iran Press TV

Monday, 03 May 2021 3:54 PM

Syria's Supreme Constitutional Court has accepted three applications out of 51 for candidacy for this month's presidential election in the conflict-stricken Arab country.

Mohamad Jihad Lahham, the president of the court, said the candidacy applications of 55-year-old Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and two other candidates had been accepted.

The court's president said in a press conference broadcast on state TV that Abdallah Salloum Abdallah, a state minister from 2016 to 2020, had been approved to run for president.

The third candidate was named as Mahmoud Marei, a member of the moderate opposition.

All 48 other applications, including seven women, were rejected for "failing to meet constitutional and legal requirements," Lahham noted.

The court's president went on to say that those whose candidacies have been rejected have the right to appeal until May 7.

Applicants needed to garner support from at least 35 members of parliament, each of whom is only allowed to back one candidate.

Syria's presidential election, which will be the second since the start of a decade-long conflict in the country back in March 2011, is scheduled to be held on May 26. Campaigning is set to start on May 11.

Syrians abroad can vote at their embassies on May 20.

Assad won nearly 90% of the votes in the 2014 election and is widely expected to win a fourth seven-year term.

He has held power since 2000, when he took over after the death of his father, Hafez, who ran the country for 30 years.

Damascus has invited lawmakers from allied countries such Russia, Iran, China, Venezuela and Cuba to observe the electoral process.

Last week, Western members of the UN Security Council, led by the United States, France and Britain, rejected the outcome of the May 26 poll in advance.

In March, the administration of US President Joe Biden said it will not recognize the result of Syria's upcoming presidential election.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Friday that Western claims about the "illegitimacy" of the forthcoming presidential vote in Syria are yet another attempt to interfere in the Arab country's domestic affairs and serve as a tool to exert political pressure on the Damascus government.

It said the election will be held in line with the country's Constitution, reminding the US and its European allies that the vote is an internal issue of the Arab nation.

Nasser Qandil, a well-known journalist and editor with the Lebanese daily newspaper al-Binaa, has expected the polls to witness a maximum turnout, roundly rejecting notions created by some, including the United States, which are attempting to brand the election as alleged rubberstamp polls.

This time, he told Press TV, the Syrians were to attend the polls, while the entire world was watching them. Therefore, it seems like the polls signified beyond simple election of a president for the country and were, in a sense, a referendum on a wide range of issues, the expert said.

The election would, in fact, reflect the level of the Syrian people's development in the face of hardships and US-led economic sanctions, Qandil said.

The polls would also indicate the level of Syrians' commitment to what Assad has been trying to safeguard, including Syria's territorial integrity and sovereignty, and the fight against terrorism and occupation, the senior journalist stated.

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