Gulf Today

Syria to stage presidenti­al election end of next month

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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.

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Syria’s parliament convenes to discuss presidenti­al election in Damascus on Sunday.
Reuters ↑ Syria’s parliament convenes to discuss presidenti­al election in Damascus on Sunday.

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