Syria ratifies new presidential election law

Syria ratifies new presidential election law
Sat Mar 15, 2014 10:13:36

Syria's parliament has set residency rules for presidential candidates, a move that would bar many foreign-based foes to run for 2014 election.

"Section 30 of the draft law stipulates that candidates for the office of president of the republic must ... have maintained continuous, permanent residence in the Syrian Arab Republic for a period of no less than 10 years at the time of seeking nomination," the Syrian state news agency SANA said.

No one in the opposition has announced an intention to challenge President Bashar al-Assad in elections that are due to be held by July. Many have lived outside of Syria since before the foreign-hatched unrest began in March 2011.

The Western-sponsored opposition group, Syrian National Coalition, whose leaders live outside Syria, claims a provisional government for militant-held areas based in Istanbul.

The legislation sets further conditions requiring candidates to be at least 40 years old, to hold Syrian citizenship only, to be a child of Syrian citizens and married only to a Syrian citizen, and to be free of criminal convictions.

Many of these terms, including the residency requirement, were introduced as amendments to the constitution approved in a referendum two years ago.

In comments published by SANA, Syrian Information Minister Omran al-Zoabi said the coming election would be "a real contribution to combating terrorism and violence".

He said state media would be neutral in dealing with all candidates and the state would maintain the security needed for Syrians "to practice this national duty".

Zoabi also criticized UN-Arab League special envoy Lakdar Brahimi, who is 80, for his remarks about Syrian elections, claiming that the poll would undermine the Geneva II peace talks on Syria since the opposition would no longer be interested in participating.

"Maybe because he is advancing in age, Brahimi has forgotten that he is only an international mediator for negotiations between the constitutionally legitimate Syrian government and the opposition," said Zoabi.

"If Brahimi wants to remain as mediator and wants Geneva to succeed... he should re-read the Geneva communique and respect his role as mediator," he said.

"Brahimi is not entitled to implement American policy in Syria. The Syrian authorities will decide whether to hold elections and nobody can obstruct the constitutional requirements in the country."


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