BEIRUT, April 23 (RAPSI) – Syria’s Higher Constitutional Court forwarded the first nomination for the presidential election to the People’s Assembly (parliament) on Wednesday, Syrian state television has announced.

The candidate, Maher Abdel Hafiz Hajjar, 46, is a Communist, an independent MP and a linguist from the University of Aleppo.

The new law on elections, which Syrian parliament approved in March, introduced the multi-candidate system for the first time in Syria’s history.

Nominations are to be submitted for consideration by the 250-seat parliament, where any candidate must have the written support of at least 35 members of parliament, in accordance with the constitution adopted in 2012.

Candidates must be at least 40 years old and must have lived in Syria for 10 consecutive years prior to nomination. Candidates with a foreign citizenship may not run. The latter two provisions effectively exclude all members of the Syrian National Coalition, the internationally recognized opposition group, from taking part in the June 3 election.

Applications can be submitted until May 1, 2014.

The incumbent president, Bashar Assad, was re-elected on May 27, 2007, when 97.62% of participants in a national referendum voted for him. He has not yet announced if he will run for a third term, but members of his government have said there are no obstacles to his nomination.

It is generally recognized that it will be difficult to hold an election amid a civil war that has displaced 9 million people and has put significant parts of the country outside government control.