Syria to stage presidential election end of next month
DAMASCUS: Syria is to hold a presidential election on May 26, the parliament speaker announced on Sunday, the country’s second in the shadow of civil war, seen as likely to keep President Bashar Al Assad in power.
Syrians abroad will be “able to vote at embassies” on May 20, Hamouda Sabbagh said in a statement, adding that prospective candidates could hand in their applications from Monday.
Assad, who took power following the death of his father Hafez in 2000, has not yet officially announced that he will stand for re-election.
He won a previous election three years into Syria’s devastating civil war in 2014, with 88 per cent of the vote.
Under Syria’s 2012 constitution, a president may only serve two seven-year terms - with the exception of the president elected in the 2014 poll.
Candidates must have lived continuously in Syria for at least 10 years, meaning that opposition figures in exile are barred from standing.
Candidates must also have the backing of at least 35 members of the parliament, which is dominated by Assad’s Baath party.
This year’s vote comes ater Russian-backed Syrian government forces re-seized the vital northern city of Aleppo and other oppositionheld areas, placing Damascus in control of two-thirds of the country.
But the poll also comes amid a crushing economic crisis.
The decade-long civil war has let at least 388,000 people dead and half of the population displaced.
Ramadan, which began Tuesday, comes as Syrian refugees’ life of displacement has goten even harder amid their host country Lebanon’s economic woes.
The struggle can be more pronounced during the holy month, when fasting is typically followed by festive feasting to fill empty stomachs.
Lebanon, home to more than 1 million Syrian refugees, is reeling from an economic crisis exacerbated by the pandemic and a massive explosion that destroyed parts of the capital last August.
Citing the impact of the compounded crises, a U.N. study said the proportion of Syrian refugee families living under the extreme poverty line - the equivalent of roughly $25 a month per person by current black market rates - swelled to 89% in 2020, compared to 55% the previous year.
More people resorted to reducing the size or number of meals, it said.