Al-Assad has two rivals in Syrian election

·1-min read

Syria's Supreme Constitutional Court has approved three candidates to run in the May 26 presidential race, among them current President Bashar al-Assad, the official SANA news agency reports.

Some 51 candidates applied to compete in the presidential race, which is expected to give incumbent al-Assad a new term in office.

The head of the court, Mohammed Jihad al-Lahham, told a press conference that the court accepted the applications of Abdullah Salloum Abdullah, Bashar Hafez al-Assad and Mahmoud Ahmad Marai.

Marai is one of the opposition figures tolerated by al-Assad and lives in Damascus, while Abdullah is a former state minister for parliamentary affairs as well as a former lawmaker.

Al-Lahham said the rest of the candidates can appeal to the court within three days.

Al-Assad, who has ruled Syria since 2000, is expected to win a fourth term. His father had the presidency from 1971 to 2000. Neither has allowed much dissent, and both have been accused of being dictators.

In 2014, al-Assad was re-elected for a seven-year term after winning by a landslide in Syria's first multi-candidate election.

Syria's crisis started with peaceful pro-democracy protests in March 2011. It soon evolved into a full-blown conflict, drawing in foreign fighters and powers.