Syria: Assad challenged by two 'rivals' in presidential vote

Constitutional Court OKs three candidatures

03 May, 14:52

    (ANSAmed) - BEIRUT, MAY 3 - Syrian President Bashar al Assad will be formally challenged in upcoming presidential elections scheduled on May 26 by two rival candidates, both male, who are nearly unknown to the public opinion and whose candidatures have been approved today by the Constitutional court together with that of the sitting president.

    Syria is a country that has been torn by a conflict for a decade. The war has caused the death of about half a million people. The country over the past two years has also endured its worst economic crisis in decades.

    Assad has been president for 21 years and is about to be confirmed for another seven-year mandate until 2028. These are the second elections under a new law that provides for the existence of so-called rival candidates.

    For decades, until 2012, in Syria the head of State was elected in a referendum after parliament, dominated by the Baath party in power since the 1960s, indicated its preference. From 1970 until 200 the head of State was Hafez al Assad, father of the current president.

    Syrian news agency Sana on Monday reported that the three candidatures were approved out of a total of 51. Among these candidatures, seven were women but none of them was approved by the Constitutional Court.

    The two rival candidates are Mahmud Ahmad Marei, indicated as "internal opposer" and "human rights activist", who is president of the unknown "Arab-Syrian organization for human rights"; and Abdallah Sallum Abdallah.

    Abdallah was lawmaker from 2012 until 2016. He is from the northern city of Azaz and a member of the Party of Socialist unionists that is part of the coalition led by the Baath party headed by President Bashar al Assad.

    (ANSAmed).

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