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Syria's Assad to seek third term 'if people want': FM

Bashar Al-Assad plans to run for third presidential term in 2014 'if the people want him,' says Syrian FM – despite two-year armed insurgency against his rule

AFP, Wednesday 29 May 2013
Assad
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad (Photo: Reuters)
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Embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who is facing a two-year rebellion against his rule, will run for a third term in 2014 if the people want him to, his foreign minister said on Wednesday.

"Will President Assad run for a third term or won't he, that will depend on conditions in 2014 and the will of the people," Foreign Minister Walid Muallem told the Beirut-based Arab news channel Mayadeen, which is close to Syria and its ally Iran.

"If the people want him, he will present himself, and, if they don't, he won't. Mr Assad is in constant touch with his people," Muallem said.

"The Americans have no say on who governs Syria," he added.

Western and Arab governments are demanding that Assad step down as part of efforts to end the deadly conflict in Syria which activists say has killed more than 94,000 people since it erupted in March 2011.

Earlier this month, Assad told Argentine newspaper Clarin that he had no plans to resign.

"To resign would be to flee," he said when asked if he would consider stepping aside as called for by US Secretary of State John Kerry.

"I don't know if Kerry or anyone else has received the power of the Syrian people to talk in their name about who should go and who should stay. That will be determined by the Syrian people in the 2014 presidential elections."

Assad has ruled Syria since 2000, when he took over on the death of his father Hafez.

He was elected in 2000 and again in 2007, virtually unopposed.

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