Western countries, activists slam Syria’s upcoming election

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Wednesday submitted his application to run for re-election next month, in a presidential vote decried by Western governments and political opponents as a sham.

The scheduled May 26 polls will be the second since Syria’s war broke out in 2011, the first elections taking place in 2014. The United States and the European Union have called for a political solution in the long-running conflict that has killed hundreds of thousands of people and forced millions to leave the country before elections are held.

Similarly, the French government also expressed its opposition to the upcoming election, which is widely expected to keep al-Assad in office for a fourth seven-year term after taking power following the death of his father in 2000.

“France, with its European Union partners, calls for the implementation of a credible, lasting political solution in accordance with United Nations Security Council Resolution 2254 in Syria,” the French Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs told Al Jazeera in a statement.

In December 2015, the UN’s Security Council – including al-Assad’s allies Russia and China – passed Resolution 2254, which calls for an end to hostilities and a political solution to the Syrian conflict.

Six presidential hopefuls have submitted requests thus far, including 50-year-old lawyer, Faten Nahar, the daughter of retired major general Ali Nahar. She is Syria’s first female presidential candidate. Another candidate is former MP Abdullah Abdullah of the Socialist Union Party, seen as being close to al-Assad and his party.

Syria’s 2012 constitution only allows a president to serve two consecutive terms, though that rule was exempted during the 2014 vote that saw al-Assad secure 88.7 percent to win a third term against two other candidates. His runner-up, businessman Hassan al-Nouri, said during the campaign that al-Assad should continue to lead the country.

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