Syrian President Bashar al-Assad wins third term

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has won a third term in office after securing 88.7% of votes in Tuesday’s presidential election, the parliamentary speaker has announced.
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.
Celebratory gunfire
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 Mr 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 US Secretary of State John Kerry, on a visit to neighbouring Lebanon, describing it as “meaningless”.
The results of the election were announced by parliamentary speaker Mohammad al-Laham on Wednesday.
“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 win is likely to boost Mr Assad’s supporters. The government side has recently made significant military gains and rebel groups are fighting among themselves.
This is not an election that can be analysed in the same way as a multi-party, multi-candidate election in one of the established European democracies or in the US, says the BBC’s Jeremy Bowen in Damascus.
It was an act of homage to President Assad by his supporters, which was boycotted and rejected by those people who don’t support him rather than an act of politics, he adds.
But the vote has faced sharp criticism from the US and its allies. “You can’t have an election where millions of your people don’t even have an ability to vote,” US Secretary of State John Kerry said.
The EU joined the US 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, the Associated Press reports. BBC

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