Syria’s Assad wins third term in office

Syria’s Assad wins third term in office

PanARMENIAN.Net - Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has won a third term in office after securing 88.7% of votes in the presidential election, the parliamentary speaker has announced, according to BBC News.

Earlier, Syria's constitutional court put the vote turnout at 73.47%.

Voting took place in government-controlled areas, but not in parts of the north and east held by rebels.

Tens of thousands of people have died in three years of civil war in Syria, with millions more displaced.

President Assad's key challengers, Hassan al-Nouri and Maher Hajjar, received 4.3% and 3.2% of the vote respectively. It was the first time in decades that more than one person - outside of the Assad family - had been allowed to stand as presidential candidate.

But Assad's critics and the Syrian opposition in rebel-held areas have dismissed the election as a farce, arguing that it has no credibility in the midst of a civil war. The opposition's allies in the West also denounced the ballot, with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, on a visit to neighboring Lebanon, describing it as "meaningless".

The results of the election were announced by parliamentary speaker Mohammad al-Laham on Wednesday, June 4.

"I declare the victory of Dr Bashar Hafez al-Assad as president of the Syrian Arab Republic with an absolute majority of the votes cast in the election," he announced in a televised address.

Celebratory gunfire erupted in the Syrian capital Damascus after the results, with reports of at least three people killed, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Syria's constitutional court had earlier announced that some 11.63 million Syrians voted out of a total of 15.85 million eligible to cast a ballot.

The EU joined the U.S. in condemning the election, saying in a statement that it could not be considered "a genuinely democratic vote".

Also on Wednesday, a delegation of officials visiting Damascus from more than 30 countries, including Iran, Russia and Venezuela, issued a statement in support of the “transparent and free elections”.

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