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Assad to stand for election despite civil war

SYRIAN President Bashar al Assad has declared that he will seek re-election in June, defying calls from his ­opponents to step aside and allow a political solution to end three years of civil war ­stemming from protests against his rule.

Mr Assad formally submitted his nomination to Syria's constitutional court to stand in an election which his Western and Arab foes have already dismissed amid the turmoil of Syria's conflict.

He is the seventh person to nominate himself in what is theoretically Syria's first multi-candidate presidential vote, but none of his rivals are expected to mount a ­serious challenge and end four decades of Assad family rule.

The announcement was made in parliament by speaker Mohammad al-Laham, who read out Assad's formal submission to the country's constitutional court.

The letter said: "I ... Dr Bashar Hafez al Assad ... wish to nominate myself for the post of president of the republic, hoping that parliament will endorse it."

In a statement released minutes after his candidacy was announced, Mr Assad appealed for calm, saying that any "demonstration of joy expressed by supporters of any candidate for the ­presidency should be responsible".

State media quoted him urging Syrians not to fire in the air because "we are living in an atmosphere of elections which Syria is holding for the first time in its modern history".

Syria's opposition leaders in exile, who are barred from standing by a constitutional clause requiring candidates to have lived in Syria continuously for 10 years, have dismissed the vote as a charade.

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