Syria to hold presidential vote on May 26

President Bashar Al Assad won last election amid civil war with 88 per cent of the vote

(FILES) In this file photo taken on September 27, 2019 during a guided tour with the Russian army shows men walking past a poster of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the old city of Aleppo. Syria is to hold a presidential election on May 26, the parliament speaker announced today, the country's second in the shadow of civil war, seen as likely to keep President Bashar Al-Assad in power. / AFP / Maxime POPOV
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Syria is to hold a presidential election on May 26, the parliament speaker announced on Sunday, the country's second in the shadow of civil war, seen as likely to keep President Bashar Al Assad in power.

Syrians abroad will be "able to vote at embassies" on May 20, Hamouda Sabbagh said in a statement, adding that prospective candidates could hand in their applications from Monday.

Mr Al Assad, who took power after the death of his father Hafez in 2000, has not yet announced whether he will stand for re-election.

He won a previous election three years into Syria's devastating civil war in 2014, with 88 per cent of the vote.

Under Syria's 2012 constitution, a president may only serve two seven-year terms – with the exception of the president elected in the 2014 poll.

Candidates must have lived continuously in Syria for at least 10 years, meaning that opposition figures in exile are barred from standing.

Candidates must also have the backing of at least 35 members of the parliament, which is dominated by Mr Al Assad's Baath party.

This year's vote comes after Russian-backed Syrian government forces retook the vital northern city of Aleppo and other opposition-held areas, placing Damascus in control of two-thirds of the country.

But the poll also comes as a crushing economic crisis continues to bite.

The decade-long civil war has left at least 388,000 people dead and half of the population displaced.

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