Syria's Assad to run for third term as president

Monday 28 April 2014 22.25
Syria's President Bashar al-Assad has registered to stand in next month's presidential election
Syria's President Bashar al-Assad has registered to stand in next month's presidential election

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has declared that he will seek re-election in June.

The announcement defies calls from Mr Assad's opponents to step aside and allow a political solution to the devastating civil war stemming from protests against his rule.

Mr Assad formally submitted his nomination to Syria's constitutional court to stand in an election.

Western and Arab foes have dismissed the election as a parody of democracy amid the turmoil of Syria's civil war.

The conflict is estimated to have killed more than 150,000 people.

Mr Assad is the seventh person to put himself forward for Syria's first multi-candidate presidential vote in decades.

However, none of his rivals are expected to mount a serious challenge and end 44 years of Assad family rule.

The announcement was made in parliament by speaker Mohammad al-Laham.

He read out Mr Assad's submission, which stated: "I ... Dr Bashar Hafezal Assad ... wish to nominate myself for the post of president of the republic, hoping that parliament will endorse it," it said.

State media said crowds gathered to celebrate the upcoming election and recent military gains by Mr Assad's forces.

"As soon as we heard that the president announced his candidacy, we came down to the streets to celebrate because we cannot see any future Syria without his excellency President Bashar al-Assad," said Khadija Hashma, one of about 100 people demonstrating in the central Damascus district of Mezzeh.

In a statement just minutes after his candidacy was announced, Mr Assad appealed for restraint and said any "demonstration of joy" should be responsible, urging people not to fire celebratory shots in the air.

The vote on 3 June will be held despite a raging war that began with peaceful anti-government protests and morphed into an insurgency after Mr Assad's regime unleashed a massive crackdown against dissent.