Gulf News

Al Assad makes bid for 4th term

So far, 5 candidates, including first woman, submitted their names


President Bashar Al Assad formally announced yesterday he will run for reelection in war-torn Syria, and was expected to win a fourth seven-year term in the largely symbolic May 26 vote.

The elections would be the second held during the course of the country’s 10-year conflict and the second following a constituti­onal change that allows for multiple candidates to run for the top job.

But Al Assad, who has been in office for over 21 years, is unlikely to face any serious competitio­n. In the last elections in 2014, he faced two contenders and won by a landslide, securing nearly 90 per cent of the vote.

Many Western countries have placed Al Assad and his allies on a sanctions list and view the elections as a sham aimed at giving the incumbent president a veneer of legitimacy.

Divided and exiled, Syria’s opposition is effectivel­y barred from fielding any candidates. The 2014 constituti­onal amendment allowing for multiple candidates includes the conditions that any candidate must have lived in Syria for the past 10 years and cannot have any other citizenshi­p.

So far, five candidates, including the country’s first woman, have submitted their names as candidates for the top job. Lawmakers must approve who can run. Al Assad, 55, took office after his father, Hafez passed away following 30 years ruling the country. After initially promising reforms, he tightened his grip on power.

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