A Syrian official announced in a statement published by a Syrian newspaper on Monday that those who left the country "illegally" will not be eligible to vote outside of Syria during the next presidential election.
The head of the High Commission for Elections, Hisham Al-Shaar, told al-Watan pro-regime newspaper that "Syrian citizens who fled the country to neighboring countries illegally are not allowed to vote from the states where they reside."
Shaar added that election law "allows the residents abroad to vote if their residency was legal in the countries where they reside."
The Syrian conflict has led more than three million people to seek asylum in neighboring countries, and thousands of these left the country illegally through non-official border crossings, especially to Turkey and Iraq.
According to the figures provided by humanitarian organizations, 88 percent of one million Syrian refugees in Lebanon entered through non-official crossings.
Shaar said that "the Syrian territory is open to all Syrian citizens who want to exercise their constitutional right to vote, especially those living in the neighboring countries. It is their right to enter Syrian territory to vote".
The specified date for elections is the third of next June, but Syrian citizens outside the country will start voting on 28 May.
The Syrian opposition and western countries consider the elections "a comedy" in a country witnesses a bloody conflict since three years, where more than 150 000 people have been killed.
Shaar explained that the High Commission for Elections will work on the development of centers for the elections "in all areas of Syria", pointing out that "hot spots will be among the priorities of the Commission."
Translated and edited by The Syrian Observer