ASIA/SYRIA - Even a Christian tries to candidate himself in the presidential election in June

Friday, 2 May 2014

Damascus (Agenzia Fides) - Shamih Mikhael Moussa, born in Btaiha in 1963, is the first Christian who is trying to run for President of the Arab Republic of Syria. The presidential elections, fatally destined to confirm in office President Bashar al-Assad, will be held on June 3. The deadline for submitting one’s application for candidacy to the Constitutional Court expired on May 1. Applications received within the deadline of submission brought to 24 the number of potential candidates, which include two women. Now each one of them will have to collect the written support of at least 35 of the 250 members of the Assembly to make sure that his/her request for application is accepted. 161 of the 250 Syrian MPs belong to the Baath Party, led by President Assad.
The native village of Mikhael Shamih Moussa is located on the Golan Heights, which were occupied by Israel in the war of 1967. The Syrian Constitution in force stipulates that the President of Syria must be a Sunni Muslim, but the electoral law for the 2014 elections, which was passed in Parliament in March 2013, did not include any binding reference in its paragraphs with regard to religious affiliation of the candidates for Presidency.
The Constitutional Court must let the official list of candidates be known on May 6th. All candidatures will be examined starting from the electoral rules in force. Local sources contacted by Fides Agency confirm that, apart from Assad, the names of the other candidates are unknown to the majority of the population, and most of them will be excluded by the Constitutional Court . A limited consent may be collected from the female electorate from one of the two candidates, if their names are not annulled by the Constitutional Court.
The first presidential election with several candidates was put on the agenda in a Country torn by civil war, with large areas controlled by the opposition factions. As established by the electoral commission, those who have "illegally" left the country will not be allowed to vote. President Assad seeks to be re-elected with broad support to show that the majority of the Syrian people still support him. The bodies close to the regime see the next elections as a significant step towards democracy - branded by the opposition as a farce - and the possible presence of women in the official list of candidates. (GV) (Agenzia Fides 02/05/2014)