Damascus [Syria], April 22 (ANI): The incumbent Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Wednesday decided to run for the fourth term after Hammouda Sabbagh, the Speaker of Syria's Parliament, announced the date of the presidential election as May 26.
After the official call, two men, Abdullah Salloum Abdullah and Mohammad Firas Yasin Rajjouh, as well as Faten Ali Nahar, a 50-year-old lawyer and the first female presidential candidate in Syria's history, joined the list of candidates. On Wednesday, Mohanad Nadim Shaaban and Mohammad Muwaffaq Sawwan announced their runs, reported DW News Agency.
There was little doubt that Assad would run for a fourth term. It is widely expected that the 55-year-old will remain in power for a further seven-year term. He won in 2014 -- officially with almost 90 per cent of the vote. Back then, he had two opponents.
Candidates have to fulfill certain criteria before they are able to submit their candidacy to the Syria's Supreme Constitutional Court. They have to be backed by 35 members of parliament, which is dominated by Assad's Baath Party, reported DW News Agency.
Candidates also need to have lived continuously in Syria for the past 10 years, which excludes opposition figures in exile, and need to be married to a citizen.
Though Syrians abroad are able to cast their votes at embassies by May 20, not everyone within the country is allowed to vote.
The country is home to the world's largest number of displaced people, with millions of domestic refugees in the north-western province of Idlib and in areas in the east that are outside of the government's control -- run by Turkish troops or their proxy militia have the say. The Kurdish majority in northern Syria is also excluded, reported DW News Agency.
International observers doubt that May's vote will be held in accordance with a UN Security Council resolution that called for free and fair elections.
"We have seen that a presidential election has been scheduled for 26 May," Jenifer Fenton, spokesperson for the UN's special envoy for Syria, told DW. "The election has been called under the auspices of the current constitution and is not part of the political process established by Security Council resolution 2254. The UN is not involved in this election and has no mandate to be."
Syria's upcoming election has been criticized as a "theatrical farce." Though there are five candidates in addition to the incumbent, international governments and the UN see no sign of a free and fair election, reported DW News Agency.
The poll will take place during Syria's financial meltdown, which has been exacerbated by international sanctions and the pandemic, and ten years after the beginning of the civil war.
According to recent UN numbers, 13.4 million people -- two in three Syrians -- are in need of humanitarian assistance. Though Syria is on the brink of a financial collapse, with limited access to petrol or wheat, the confirmation of Assad as president might serve as a morale booster.
The Syrian government's international allies have already found a reason to congratulate Assad. Over the weekend, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and the monarch of Malaysia, Sultan Abdullah Ri'ayatuddin al-Mustafa Billah Shah, sent their greetings to Assad on the 75th anniversary of Evacuation Day, which commemorates the departure of French colonial forces from Syria, reported DW News Agency. (ANI)