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Syria to head to the polls on May 26

·1-min read

Syria will hold its presidential election on May 26, the country's parliament says, in a vote which is expected to return President Bashar al Assad for a third term in office.

Assad's family and his Baath party have ruled Syria for more than five decades, holding a strong grip on power with the help of the security forces and army, where his Alawite minority dominate and dissent against his rule is not tolerated.

A bloody crackdown on pro-democracy protesters by Assad's security apparatus in 2011 led to a devastating civil war.

Election rules require candidates to have lived in Syria for the last 10 years, which effectively prevents key opposition figures in exile from standing for office.

The door for nominations will be open as of Monday for 10 days.

Syrians abroad will vote on May 20.

Assad faced two challengers at the 2014 election which he won by a landslide. His opponents dismissed it as a charade.

Opposition and Western leaders have demanded that Assad, whom they accuse of crimes against humanity, should step down and make way for a democratic transition.