December 19, 2014
Syria: Al-Assad to face two candidates for presidential election
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.
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.
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.
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.