Syria announces presidential election for June 3

Syria will hold presidential elections that are expected to return President Bashar al-Assad to office on June 3, the country\’s parliamentary speaker says.
Mohammed al-Lahham said candidates could register to run from Tuesday.
At a special session of the People\’s Assembly in Damascus, Lahham said voting for Syrians living outside the country would take place at embassies on 28 May. Those resident in Syria would be able to cast their ballots from 09:00 to 19:00 on 3 June, he added.
Lahham did not say how the government planned to organise voting in contested areas or in the large swathes of the country that are controlled by the opposition.
The announcement came just hours after mortar shells exploded about 100m (320ft) from the parliament building in central Damascus, killing five people, according to state TV.
The vote announced Monday will give President Bashar al-Assad the chance to win a third seven-year term in office.
The president has been in power since 2000 when he took office following the death of his father, who had ruled Syria for 30 years.
Assad won his second term in 2007, taking 97 percent of the vote in an election boycotted by the opposition and one in which he was the only candidate on the ballot.
Earlier this month, Western and Gulf countries that support the opposition dismissed any idea of a presidential vote in the midst of a civil war.
More than 150,000 people have been killed and another 2.6 million have fled the country since Syria\’s civil war began in March 2011. 
The conflict started with mass street protests against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and turned into an insurgency after a violent crackdown on demonstrators.
Source: Agencies
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