Syria’s parliament has set residency rules for presidential candidates, state media said on Friday, a move that would bar many of President Bashar al-Assad’s foes who live in exile as the uprising in the major Arab state enters its fourth year.
Assad has not yet announced whether he will stand for a third term in defiance of rebels fighting to overthrow him and Western leaders who have demanded he go to help end Syria’s civil war and make way for a democratic transition. But in state-controlled parts of the capital Damascus, preparations for his candidacy are unmistakable.
“Section 30 of the draft law stipulates that candidates for the office of president of the republic must … have maintained continuous, permanent residence in the Syrian Arab Republic for a period of no less than 10 years at the time of seeking nomination,” the Syrian state news agency SANA said.
The legislation sets further conditions requiring candidates to be at least 40 years old, to hold Syrian citizenship only, to be a child of Syrian citizens and married only to a Syrian citizen, and to be free of criminal convictions.
U.N.-Arab League peace mediator Lakhdar Brahimi has said the opposition will probably not be interested in pursuing further peace talks with the government if it goes ahead with an election that would likely secure a new term for Assad, whose family has ruled the country for 44 years.