South Asia and Beyond

Syria Elections: Assad To Face Two ‘Contenders’

Syria’s Supreme Constitutional Court has allowed only three of 51 candidates to run in the May 26 scheduled Presidential polls. Bashar Al Assad will be ‘challenged’ for what will be his fourth 7-year term by Abdullah Saloum Abdullah, a former deputy minister for parliamentary affairs and Mahmoud Marari, an officially recognised ‘opposition leader’. 50-year-old Faten Ali Nahar, the first woman to file her nomination, and 47 others have been ruled out for not ‘complying with constitutional and legal requirements.’ Assad, took over in 2000 after the death of his father Hafez, who ruled for 30 years, and has regained control of most of the country after 10 years of civil war. He got 88.7% of the vote in the 2014 election, the first multi-candidate vote in five decades after constitutional amendments introduced following protests in 2011. The UN estimates at least 400,000 people have been killed in the conflict since then. A U.N. resolution calls for a political resolution, a new constitution, drafted and approved in a public referendum before U.N.-monitored Presidential elections. Little movement has occurred because of Russia backing Assad in the UN Security Council.