Syria will hold presidential elections on June 3, the country’s parliament speaker said Monday, a vote President Bashar al-Assad is likely to contest as his nation sinks deeper into a bloody civil war, now in its fourth year. Mr. Assad has been widely expected to seek another seven-year term in office despite the uprising against his rule. The conflict that has engulfed the nation since March 2011 has killed over 150,000 people and forced one-third of the country’s population from their homes. Parliament Speaker Mohammed Laham said candidates seeking to run for president can register their candidacy from next Tuesday, April 22 until May 1. “I call on the citizens of the Syrian Arab republic, inside and outside [the country] to exercise their right in electing a president,” Laham said from parliament in comments broadcast live on state-run television.
The announcement came just hours after a pair of mortar shells struck some 100 meters (320 feet) from the parliament building in central Damascus, killing five people, according to state TV.
Rebels said the mortars were a message to Mr. Assad that he and his supporters aren’t safe. They say they are punishing pro-government forces for besieging areas controlled by the opposition, denying residents food, clean water and medical aid, and for dropping crude bombs on residential areas.
However, the announcement of the balloting reflected the determination of the Assad government to prevail on the political scene and its resurgent confidence, given the momentum of the war, which has lately seen significant advances by the pro-Assad forces.
Full Article: Syria to Hold Presidential Elections on June 3 – WSJ.com.