War-torn Syria to hold presidential vote on May 26

War-torn Syria to hold presidential vote on May 26

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DAMASCUS: Syria will hold a presidential election on May 26, which will allow Bashar al-Assad to continue to come to power in a country that has been ravaged by a decade of civil war.

This will be the second vote since the conflict broke out in March 2011. Since then, at least 388,000 people have been killed, half of the population has been displaced, and there is no political solution.

Western powers warned last month against conducting “unfair or free” polls, and opposition activist Nasr Hariri condemned the upcoming elections as “farce”.

The election, announced on Sunday by parliament speaker Hamouda Sabbagh, comes as Syria is also mired in a deep economic crisis, worsened by sanctions, the pandemic and financial turmoil in Lebanon.

Assad, who took power following the death of his father Hafez in 2000, has not yet officially announced that he will stand for re-election.

The now 55-year-old won a previous poll three years into the war, in 2014, with 88 percent of the vote.

Since then, government forces, with the military help of the regime’s allies Russia and Iran, and Tehran’s acting Lebanese militia, Hezbollah, have retaken large tracts of territory from rebels and jihadists.

However, most areas of Syria can still escape government control, and there will be no voting in these areas.

They include the northwestern province of Idlib (Idlib), a rebellious fortress controlled by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham and led by former members of al-Qaeda in Syria.

The Idlib area, including areas where other insurgent groups are also nearby, is home to 2.9 million people, two-thirds of whom have fled their homes in other violent areas.

Syrians living in border areas controlled by the Turkish army and militia and other people living in the northern Kurdish majority area that does not occupy the power will also be unable to vote.

Only Syrians living in government-controlled areas or Syrians living abroad and registered with their national embassy are allowed to vote.

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