‘I am a real contender,’ says Syria presidential candidate

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DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) — One of two candidates running against longtime Syrian ruler Bashar Assad is casting himself as the first opposition representative to vie for the country’s top post. Mohamoud Marei said Tuesday that as a critic of the government who remained in Syria, he may have the keys to solving the 10-year ruinous conflict. But Marei, a lawyer who heads a small government-sanctioned opposition group, has virtually no chance of waging real competition in next week’s election to the incumbent. Assad has held power since 2000, when he took over after the death of his father who ran the country for 30 years.

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