Assad calls for parliamentary elections in April

Assad calls for parliamentary elections in April
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has called for parliamentary elections in April, just hours after the United States and Russia agreed to a new ceasefire deal.
2 min read
23 February, 2016
The last parliamentary elections were held in May 2012 [AFP]

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Monday called for parliamentary elections to be held in April, state news agency SANA reported.

The announcement came hours after the US and Russia agreed on a temporary cessation of hostilities for Syria that will take effect Saturday, even as major questions over enforcing the truce were left unresolved.

A UN Security Council resolution adopted in December calls for parliamentary and presidential elections to be held during an 18-month transition period that would end the five-year-old conflict in Syria.

But the country was due for parliament elections anyway, as the current parliament's term expires in May.

Assad announced in a decree issued on Monday that new parliamentary elections would be held on 13 April. Such elections are held once every four years.

The last such parliamentary elections were held in May 2012, in which political parties other than the ruling Baath Party were allowed to stand for the first time.

Still, most of the 250 members of parliament that were elected for four-year terms were Baath members.

At the time, Assad appointed then-agriculture minister Riad Hijab to be Syria's new prime minister.

Hijab has since defected and now leads the main opposition grouping to Assad's regime from the Saudi capital Riyadh.

More than 260,000 people have been killed since Syria's conflict erupted in March 2011, and millions have been forced to flee their homes.