Assad announces parliamentary elections in April

Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad announced on Monday that parliamentary elections are to be held on April 13, state news agency SANA reported.

The announcement came shortly after Washington and Moscow announced a ceasefire plan.

Assad issued a decree which included seat allocations for each of the provinces in Syria, which last held parliamentary elections in May 2012.

That was the first time that multiple parties — not just the ruling Baath party — were allowed to stand.

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.

Hours before Assad’s announcement, the United States and Russia said that a cessation of hostilities in Syria will go into effect this Saturday on February 27, after a previous attempt for a ceasefire last Friday failed miserably.

In a joint statement, the two countries said Saturday's partial truce would begin at midnight Damascus time and would apply to parties to the conflict that have committed to the deal – but not to the Islamic State (ISIS) group or the Al-Nusra Front, an Al-Qaeda affiliate.

Assad has previously declared that a ceasefire could not mean "that everyone stops using their weapons."

"This is the narrow sense," he said. "A ceasefire must mean stopping terrorists from strengthening their positions. Moving weapons, equipment, terrorists or strengthening positions must all be forbidden.”

Assad uses the word “terrorists” to refer to all the groups seeking his ouster.

AFP contributed to this report.

Source: http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/208411

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