Court accepts Assad’s presidential bid

A Syrian court accepted President Bashar al-Assad together with two other candidates to run for election next month

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A Syrian court said on Sunday it had accepted requests from President Bashar al-Assad and two other candidates to be nominated to run in a presidential election next month.

Assad’s challengers are unlikely to pose a serious threat to the president in the June 3 vote, which his international opponents and the rebels fighting to overthrow him have dismissed as a farce.

Syria’s opposition leaders in exile are barred from standing by a constitutional clause requiring candidates to have lived in the country continuously for 10 years.

The constitution also says candidates must have the backing of 35 members of the pro-Assad parliament, effectively ruling out dissenting voices from the campaign.

The Supreme Constitutional Court had accepted nomination requests from Assad as well as Hassan Abdallah al-Nouri and lawmaker Maher Abdel-Hafiz Hajjar, court spokesman Majid Khadra said in statements broadcast on state television.

He said those whose requests had been rejected had a right to appeal to the court from May 5 until May 7.

Authorities have not said how they will hold the vote in a country where six million people have been displaced and large swathes of territory remain outside government control.

Another 2.5 million refugees have fled Syria, many smuggling themselves across the frontier to avoid Assad's security forces.

Election commission head Hisham al-Shaar was quoted by Syria’s Al-Watan newspaper on Monday as saying Syrians who had left the country illegally would not be eligible to vote

Syria’s conflict started over three years ago as a peaceful protest movement calling for reforms but descended into civil war after a government crackdown.

The government has lost swathes of territory to rebels, especially in the country’s north and east, although it has maintained control over much of Syria’s center and Mediterranean coast.

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