Syria will hold presidential elections that are expected to return President Bashar al-Assad to office on June 3, the country’s parliamentary speaker has said.
The first presidential election – after constitutional amendments did away with the old referendum system – will be held amid a civil war that has killed more than 150,000 people, with rebels holding large chunks of territory.
“Elections for the president of the Syrian Arab Republic for Syrians resident in the country will be held on June 3 from 7:00am to 7:00pm,” AFP news agency reported quoting Mohammad al-Lahham during a special session of parliament on Monday.
Voting for Syrians living outside the country will take place on May 28, Lahham said, adding that candidates for the presidency could register to run from Tuesday until May 1.
Assad, whose term ends on July 17, is widely expected to run and win another seven-year term in office despite the conflict.
New election rules require candidates to have lived in Syria for the last decade, effectively preventing prominent opposition figures in exile from standing for office.
More than 150,000 people have been killed in the fighting in Syria since March 2011, according to the UK-based monitoring group Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
The conflict, which began with peaceful protests against Assad’s government, has also displaced nearly half of Syria’s population inside and outside the country.
The government has not laid out how it plans to hold elections under the circumstances.
Earlier on Monday, activists reported five killed by barrel bombing in Aleppo’s al-Sakhour district.
Syrian state media reported five deaths from a mortar shells near the parliament building in Damascus.