On April 21, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad submitted documents to run for a third term in the election scheduled for May 26.
The news was announced by Hammouda Sabbagh, the Speaker of Syrian People’s Assembly. Under Syria’s electoral laws, al-Assad, like all other candidates, needs the support of at least 35 members of the People’s Assembly to officially enter the presidential race.
President al-Assad was the sixth to file for the upcoming presidential elections. The other five candidates are:
- Abdullah Sallum Abullah: a member of the Socialist Unionist Party, a former Member of the People’s Assembly and a former Minister of State from Aleppo.
- Mohamad Firas Yassin Rajouh: an engineer, media activists and a businessman from Damascus. In 2014, he filed for the presidential elections. However, he failed to secure the approval of 35 members of the People’s Assembly.
- Faten Ali Nahar: an independent lawyer from al-Quneitra and the first ever female to file for the presidential elections in Syria.
- Mohanad Nadim Sha’ban: a former independent candidate to the 2020 parliamentary elections from Damascus.
- Mohamad Muafaq Sawan: President of the Democratic Unionist Reform Party from Damascus.
Al-Assad will certainly reach the elections as his party, the Arab Socialist Baʽath Party, dominates the People’s Assembly. The other candidates may, however, struggle to get the required support from 35 members of the Assembly.
The upcoming presidential elections in Syria have been already under much criticism from the Syrian opposition and foreign sides. The US, the EU and Turkey have already announced that they will not acknowledge the outcome of the elections.
Syria’s complicated electoral law is the main target of the ongoing criticism. The law does not only require the approval of 35 members from the People’s Assembly Members, but also that candidates must have lived in Syria for the last 10 years. This prevents opposition figures in exile from standing.
Another issue that’s being raised by critics of the upcoming elections is that the elections will not be organized in opposition-held areas in the northwestern and northern region, nor in areas held by the Syrian Democratic Forces in the northeastern region.
The critics refuse to acknowledge that the de-facto forces in these areas, whether Turkish-backed militants or Kurdish forces, are against holding the elections there.
Despite the criticism, Damascus appears to be determined to hold the presidential elections on time, in government areas as well as in embassy’s aboard. Under the current circumstances, al-Assad is projected to win with a landslide.
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