Assad declared landslide victor in Syria election
05 June 2014, 12:53
Beirut - President Bashar Assad has secured a landslide victory in a wartime election and has demonstrated his tenacious hold on power after three years of brutal civil war.
Parliamentary speaker Mohammad al-Laham said Assad secured 88.7% of votes cast in the election, which was held mainly in the central and western parts of the country, where his forces hold sway.
"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," Laham said in a televised address from his office in the Syrian parliament.
State television showed crowds cheering and dancing in Damascus, Qamishli in the Kurdish northeast of the country, the Druze city of Suweida in the south and the contested city of Aleppo in the north.
Syria's constitutional court earlier said that turnout in Tuesday's election and a previous round of voting for Syrian expatriates and refugees stood at 73%.
Assad's foes have ridiculed the election, saying the two relatively unknown and state-approved challengers offered no real alternative to Assad. Former minister Hassan al-Nouri got 4.3% of the vote while parliamentarian Maher Hajjar secured 3.2%, fewer than the number of spoilt ballots.
Syrian officials have described the victory as vindication of Assad's three-year campaign against the rebels and a landmark for democracy - the first time in half a century that Syria has held a contested presidential election.
For many Syrians voting on Tuesday, politics took second place to the yearning for stability and security after three devastating years of conflict which grew out of the mass protests in 2011 against Assad's rule.
For the country's minority Alawite, Christian and Druze communities, the Alawite president offers a bulwark against increasingly radical Sunni Muslim insurgents and the promise - however remote - of a return to stability.
The official figures also suggest that many of the majority Sunni Muslims turned out to vote for Assad, whether out of weariness with the conflict or fear of retribution if they did not vote.
Previous presidential votes had been referendums to approve the appointment of Bashar and his father, Hafez al-Assad, who ruled for 30 years until his death in 2000. Hafez never won less than 99%, while his son scored 97% in 2007.
Assad's victory came a week after former Egyptian army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi secured 96.9% of votes in Egypt's presidential election. Turnout in Egypt was 47%, the country's election commission said