Syria will hold presidential elections on May 26, at the end of the current term of Bashar al-Assad. The process for the elections will begin from Monday, April 19, with the filing of nominations. Speaker of the Syrian parliament Hamouda Sabbagh announced the opening of nominations on Sunday, April 18, which will end on April 28.
Assad had won the last presidential election in 2014 with over 88% of the votes.
According to the rules, anyone who wants to contest the elections needs to have the backing of at least 35 members of the Syrian parliament. He or she should also be a resident of the country for at least 10 years.
The elections to the Syrian parliament, People’s Assembly, were held last year, in which president Assad’s Ba’th party won the majority.
The US and its allies in Europe have called for the boycott of the upcoming presidential elections, calling it a violation of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolution 2254.
Resolution 2254 was unanimously passed in the UNSC in December 2015 and called for a political solution to the war in Syria, as well as fresh elections under UN supervision according to a new constitution within 18 months of the passing of the resolution.
Syrian rebel groups, who have been fighting a war with international backing against the Assad government since 2011 and still control a part of northern Syria, have also rejected the elections as illegitimate.
The war in Syria has devastated the infrastructure of the country. Over 400,000 have been killed and almost half the population is displaced, the majority of them living as refugees.
Unlike in 2014, the Syrian government today controls most of the territory and major population centers. The conduct of the elections is, however, more challenging.
The elections are being held at a time when Syria’s economy is hurting due to the war and the economic sanctions imposed by the US and European Union for years now. The COVID-19 pandemic has further made economic revival difficult. The UN had appealed to the US and other countries to lift the sanctions in order to pave the way for the reconstruction of Syria’s economy. However, the US has imposed fresh sanctions on the country under its so-called Caesar Act.
Millions of Syrian refugees, living in neighboring Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq as well as some European countries, will not be eligible to vote in the elections.