DUBAI, April 24 (RIA Novosti) – Holding presidential elections in Syria is legitimate despite the ongoing civil war in the country, Issam al-Takrouri, a professor of international law at the University of Damascus, said in an interview with RIA Novosti Thursday.
"The war can affect voter turnout, but not the legitimacy of the people's declaration of will," said al-Tekrouri.
Syrians will vote in the areas and settlements controlled by the government, the expert said.
"The state controls the territory populated by 16 million Syrian citizens," the professor said.
Al-Tekrouri called a statement by Secretary-General of the Arab League Nabil Elaraby criticizing Syria’s decision to hold the election “an intervention, which contradicts among other things the charter of the League."
"The right to elect and be elected is a basic constitutional right of any citizen of a sovereign state. Other states have no right to interfere in issues of sovereignty," said al-Takrouri.
Opposition members living outside Syria will not be able to come forward as candidates, as it would contradict the new law on presidential elections, the expert said. According to the document, any candidate running for president must have lived in Syria for the past ten years and cannot have any other citizenship.
At the same time, Syrians living abroad will be able to vote at the diplomatic missions of the Syrian Arab Republic, he said.
"The elections are obviously legitimate, so they will be held in any case," al-Tekrouri concluded.
On Monday, officials in Syria opened the registration of candidates and announced that the country's upcoming presidential election will be held on June 3. President Bashar al-Assad has not yet announced if he will be running for re-election. Last April, Assad told media that he is ready to step down if Syrians vote for that outcome.
The UN, the US, the EU and the Arab League condemned the Syrian government's intention to hold the elections under the current circumstances, which they say is a violation of the Geneva agreements on the peaceful settlement of the conflict in the country.
The civil war in Syria broke out following unrest that swept the Arab world three years ago, known as the Arab Spring. Armed opposition groups linked to al-Qaeda have called for the ouster of President Assad.
Moscow has repeatedly condemned the rise of terrorism in Syria and has urged the international community to take steps toward the peaceful settlement of the conflict, including holding democratic presidential elections.