Damascus, May 25 (EFE).- Over 18 million Syrians are eligible to vote in Wednesday’s presidential elections, which are widely-expected to extend Bashar al-Assad’s time in power.
Syria’s Interior Minister Mohamad al-Rahmoun on Tuesday said the figures included Syrians living abroad and voters in areas of Syria not under Damascus control after a 10-year civil war.
Residents of Kurdish-controlled areas of northeastern Syria and the majority of Idlib province, held by armed militias including Islamist factions, will not take part in the vote.
The legitimacy of elections has been rejected by Western governments, the United Nations and Assad’s Syrian opponents, many of whom are now abroad, who believe the vote has been choreographed to seal the incumbent’s rule.
Assad, in power since the death of his father in 2000, is expected to be re-elected.
His contenders are former Deputy Minister of Parliamentary Affairs Abdullah Salloum Abdullah and leader of the internal opposition, Mahmoud Marai.
The 2012 Constitution only allows presidential candidates who have resided in Syria during the last decade, preventing the opposition in exile from running and limiting candidates to internal opponents tolerated by Damascus.
In the last elections in 2014, when for the first time in half a century more than one candidate stood for election after the constitution was amended following protests in 2011, Assad won with 88.7% of the votes.
Since the end of 2019, the government and its opposition have been in dialogue in Geneva to draft a new constitution as part of the peace plan adopted by the UN in 2015, which would represent the legal framework for holding free elections in Syria. EFE