Syrian state media has reported a member of the People’s Assembly has registered as a challenger to Bashar al-Assad in the upcoming presidential election.
The Syrian opposition in exile has criticised the planned election of June 3 as a “farce”, while the UN and the Arab League have said it poses a major obstacle to efforts for a negotiated peace.
“The speaker of the Syrian People’s Assembly Mohammad Jihad al-Laham announced on Wednesday that the Assembly received from the Supreme Constitutional Court a candidacy application from MP Maher Abdul-Hafiz Hajjar to run for president,” SANA, the official news agency, reported.
Sources in Syria say that Hajjar is a member of the internal opposition and a member of Syrian People’s Assembly representing Aleppo governorate.
It will be Syria’s first presidential election – previously a referendum was held on a single candidate but that system was replaced by an amendment to the constitution.
Hajjar’s candidacy was announced two days after Lahham said Syria would hold a presidential election.
Election rules require candidates to have lived in Syria for the last decade, effectively preventing key opposition figures in exile from standing.
The Syrian conflict has killed more than 150,000 people and nearly half of Syria’s population has been displaced.
Violence continues to ravage many parts of the country, even reaching the heart of the capital, which has come under repeated mortar fire by opposition fighters on its outskirts.
The government has not laid out how it plans to hold a credible election with large swathes of the country outside its control.