The Syrian government says nobody can prevent the country’s President Bashar al-Assad from running for re-election next year.
“Nobody has the right to interfere and say he must run or he should not run,” Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Muqdad told AFP on Thursday.
“President Assad in my opinion should be a candidate but he will decide when the time comes for him to decide,” he said.
“I shall ask the opposition: why a Syrian national does not have the right to be a candidate? Who can prevent him? Any Syrian national can be candidate,” said Muqdad.
“The ballot boxes will decide who will lead Syria… President Assad enjoys a big majority while (France’s) President (Francois) Hollande has only 15 percent support of the French people,” he argued.
While the opposition insists on Assad’s ouster, three years into an armed conflict that has cost more than 100,000 lives, the Syrian government has repeatedly said he would run in 2014 polls.
Assad himself said in a television interview in October: “I don’t see any reason why I shouldn’t run in the next election.”