Syria Presidential Hopefuls to Register from Monday

Candidates for Syria's presidential election can begin registering on April 21, when the date for the vote will be announced, a government source told Agence France Presse on Thursday.

"On Monday April 21, the Council of the People (parliament) will meet to open registration for presidential candidates and set a date for the election," the source said.

Syria's government has insisted it will go ahead with presidential elections this year before the end of President Bashar Assad's term on July 17.

But it is unclear how it will do so during a raging civil war that has killed more than 150,000 people over the past three years, displaced nearly half the population and seen the regime lose control of large swathes of territory.

The vote will be Syria's first multi-candidate elections, after a new constitution did away with the old process of presidential referendums.

Assad has all but said he will stand, and is expected to easily win the vote.

New electoral regulations, including a requirement stating that candidates must have been living in Syria for the last decade, will exclude prominent opposition figures who live in exile.

The government's plan to hold the vote has drawn criticism from much of the international community, with U.N.-Arab League peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi warning it could jeopardize further peace talks.

Syria's opposition has insisted that Assad can have no role in the country's future and his departure from office is one of their key demands.

Source: Agence France Presse

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