BEIRUT

Middle East

Rebels capture ex-presidential candidate

BEIRUT: Rebels have captured an army colonel who tried unsuccessfully to stand in next month’s presidential election, according to an Internet video posted Tuesday.

The video showed a man who identified himself as Mohammad Hassan Kanaan, with a military ID card bearing his name, who said he was captured by rebels on the road from Damascus to Deraa.

Kanaan was named as one of 24 people who had nominated themselves to stand in the June 3 presidential election, which is widely expected to extend President Bashar Assad’s hold on power.

The Constitutional Court has ruled that Assad and two other candidates had met the requirements to stand in the election, but Wednesday it said it was looking into challenges filed by six would-be candidates, and would issue a final list of eligible candidates Saturday.

One challenge was filed by the sole Christian seeking to enter the race, although the Constitution bans non-Muslims from the presidency.

Tuesday’s video purporting to show the captured candidate was posted in the name of the Tabarak al-Rahman brigade.

Flanked by two men in military uniform carrying rifles, Kanaan said his commanding officer instructed him to run.

“When I refused, he threatened to liquidate members of my family one by one,” he said. Under questioning, he said other would-be candidates were also coerced into nominating themselves.

“It’s a political game and media fabrication.”

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on May 08, 2014, on page 8.

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