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Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to run for third term in office

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad had registered to run for re-election. Although he is one of seven candidates, he is widely expected to win.

The speaker of the Syrian parliament, Mohamed al-Lahham, announced on Monday that Assad had submitted the necessary paperwork to stand for a third seven-year term.

Lahham then read out a letter, which he said the president had submitted to parliament.

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

Changes made to Syria's constitution two years ago will make this the first time that multiple candidates are being allowed to run for president. Previously, Assad and his predecessor and father, Hafez al-Assad, had had their candidacies for the job approved in referendums. In the last one, in 2007, Assad was confirmed in office with 97,6 percent of the vote.

Assad is one of seven candidates who have announced their intention to run in the

June 3 election,

but none of the others is seen as having a chance of unseating the president, who has been in office since 2000.

The election will only take place in parts of Syria controlled by government forces, meaning that voters in

large swathes of the country held by rebel fighters

will not be able to take part.

More than 150,000 people are believed to have been killed and

millions have been displaced

in the civil conflict, which began as mainly peaceful demonstrations against Assad's government in March 2011.

pfd/kms (AFP, dpa, AP, Reuters)

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