Assad to Face Two Candidates in Election
Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad will face two other candidates in the coming June presidential election, the country's Supreme constitutional Court announced Sunday, according to The Associated Press (AP).
21 other candidates were found to be ineligible to run, according to court spokesman Majid Khadra said on state television. He did not elaborate.
Assad, who is seeking a third seven-year term, will face Hassan bin Abdullah al-Nouri, a 54-year-old lawmaker from Damascus, and 43-year-old Maher Abdul-Hafiz Hajjar, a lawmaker from the northern city of Aleppo, according to AP.
Opposition activists and Western countries have condemned the elections as a sham as voting is expected to be held only in government-controlled territory.
Assad last week dismissed the claims, saying, “The Syrian presidency... maintains an equal distance from all candidates in order that Syrians can choose their... president freely and transparently.”
In March, the Syrian parliament approved an electoral law opening the door - at least in theory - to other candidates. The new law, however, placed conditions effectively ensuring that almost no opposition figures would be able to run. It states that any candidate must have lived in Syria for the past 10 years and cannot have any other citizenship.
Meanwhile, the Syrian civil war continues as do allegations of chemical attacks by the Assad regime.
Two weeks ago, activists said that over 100 people were killed in a chlorine gas attack in the town of Talmenes in Idlib Province.
The Islamic Front, an opposition forces coalition, claimed that victims of the attack were suffering from the effects of inhaling chlorine gas, listed the names of 17 victims, and even released video footage of the aftermath of the attack.
The United Nations Security Council has since called for an investigation into the alleged chlorine attack.