Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has registered to stand in the country’s presidential elections due to be held in June.
Parliamentary speaker Mohammad al-Laham made the announcement on Monday during a televised session of Syria’s parliament.
Assad is widely expected to secure a third term in office despite a thee-year old civil war that stemmed from protests against his rule, the Reuters news agency reported.
The president’s letter to Syria’s constitutional court, read out in parliament by Laham, 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.”
Arab and Western opponents of the Syrian government have condemned the election as a mockery of democracy. Critics say no credible vote can take place in a country where 6 million people have been displaced and 2.5 million have fled as refugees.
A number of other candidates will also be competing in the election, but Syria’s opposition leaders in exile, who are barred from standing dismissed the vote, called it a charade.
Syria’s constitution says presidential candidates must win the backing of 35 members of the parliament and cannot have lived outside the country in the last 10 years.
The Assad family have ruled over Syria for four decades and the current three-year old uprising has been the most serious challenge to their grip on power.
The conflict is estimated to have killed more than 150,000 people.