Syria’s presidential candidates kick off election campaign

Syria’s presidential candidates kick off election campaign
Sun May 11, 2014 16:44:06

Syria’s candidates for presidency have formally kicked off their campaigns for the June 3 election which is expected to help ending three years of war in the country.

Billboards and posters taped to car windows touted candidate’s credentials in Syria's first multi-candidate presidential election.

Voting will only be held in areas which have been secured by the government as well as refugees who left Syria through official crossings.

In the capital's Sabaa Bahrat neighborhood, one billboard hung "by citizens of Syria" proclaims, "We won't close our eyes until we have said yes to the ophthalmologist," a reference to Syrian President Bashar Assad, who is an eye specialist.

"We vote for you, 2014," it adds.

Elsewhere, posters read: "Our Bashar, we will not accept a president other than you. We have chosen you, you have our loyalty."

"I am still convinced that he is the sole leader who can achieve the aspirations of the Syrian people," Riyadh Shahin, 44, a government employee, told the Associated Press. "In my opinion, Assad is the suitable person for this post, because without him, Syria is divided. He is the sole guarantee to keep Syria strong."

Assad faces two other candidates in the race; Maher Hajjar and Hassan al-Nouri, both members of the internal opposition.

Hajjar is from Syria's second city of Aleppo, which has been devastated by fighting since 2012, and is an independent MP and former member of the Communist party.

Nuri is a Damascus businessman who was a member of the domestic opposition who did not join the opposition in exile which has been leading the extremist-marked war in the country.

Syria sank into war in March 2011 when pro-reform protests turned into a massive insurgency following the intervention of Western and regional states.

The unrest, which took in terrorist groups from across Europe, the Middle East and North Africa, has transpired as one of the bloodiest conflicts in recent history.


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