Islam News – Syria’s higher constitutional court has selected a former minister and a member of the Damascus-tolerated opposition to face Bashar al-Assad in this month’s presidential election.
The Assad-appointed body on Monday approved three out of 51 applicants to stand in the May 26 ballot, among them the 55-year-old president himself, widely expected to win a fourth mandate.
Jihad al-Laham, the court’s president, said in a press conference broadcast on state TV that Abdallah Salloum Abdallah, a state minister from 2016 to 2020, had been approved to run for president.
The third candidate was named as Mahmoud Marei, a member of the so-called “tolerated opposition” long described by exiled opposition leaders as an extension of the regime.
Damascus views the election as the governing system functioning normally despite the war. The opposition and Western countries view it as a farce to keep Assad in power indefinitely and head off negotiations to end the conflict.
All 48 other applications were ruled out for “failing to meet constitutional and legal requirements”, the court president said, without elaborating. They have until May 7 to appeal.
Applicants needed to garner support from at least 35 members of parliament, each of whom is only allowed to back one candidate.
Exiled opposition members are de facto ruled out by an electoral law that stipulates candidates must have lived in Syria continuously for at least the past 10 years.