Syria will hold a presidential election next month, the country’s parliament said.
After 10 years of war the Syrian government controls most of the big population centres in the country. About 400,000 people have been killed and over half of Syrians displaced.
The election for a president who will serve a seven-year-term will take place on 26 May, Speaker Hamouda Sabbagh said. Prospective candidates for the election would be able to register from Monday while Syrians abroad would be able to vote at embassies on 20 May.
It is the second presidential election to take place during the civil war. The previous vote in 2014 was dismissed as undemocratic and illegitimate by opponents within Syria and by the US and EU. That election saw President Bashar al-Assad win 92% of the vote.
The 2014 vote was also the first time in decades that someone other than a member of the Assad family had been allowed to stand for president in Syria. But the other two candidates were not widely known and received little publicity.
Syria’s civil war started after peaceful pro-democracy protests were violently suppressed by security forces, leading opposition supporters to take up arms. Fighting spread across the country, eventually involving hundreds of rebel and jihadist groups and drawing in outside powers for and against the government.
Pro-Syrian forces have now retaken large parts of the country and a fragile ceasefire is in place between the government and rebels in the last province under the rebels’ control, Idlib, in the north-west.
The country is also in the grip of a deep economic crisis that has seen food prices soar and the Syrian currency nosedive, which the government has blamed on Western sanctions.