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89% vote in favor of new Syrian Constitution

Published time: February 27, 2012 14:27
Edited time: February 28, 2012 10:32

Syria's President Bashar al-Assad and his wife Asma vote during a referendum on a new constitution at a polling station in a Syrian TV station building in Damascus February 26, 2012. (Reuters / Sana Sana)

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Syria’s Interior Minister has announced that 89 per cent of those who took part in the referendum have voted in favor of a new constitution. The new law puts an end to five decades of one-party rule among other reforms put forward by President Assad.

Interior Minister Ibrahim al-Shaar announced the results of the referendum at a press conference on Monday.­

According to the minister, out of 14,580,000 Syrians eligible to vote some 8,376,000, or about 57 per cent, actually came to the polling stations and voted, RT’s Maria Finoshina reports from Damascus.

Al-Shaar said that the opposition groups tried to hamper the vote in some troubled areas like Homs and Idlib. Armed rebels did not allow some people to get to the polling stations he said.The minister has not provided the figures on turnout in these cities.

“In Homs we are going to fight till the very end, till there are no armed groups,” he said, as cited by Finoshina.

Those who live in such troubled regions had a chance to vote at polling stations which had been set up out of areas where clashes with the armed opposition still continue. Syrians who live in neighboring countries voted at stations set up near the borders.

“We are satisfied with the results,” al-Shaar said. “The Syrian people have made their choice.”

Russia’s Foreign Ministry considers the results of the referendum in Syria to be evidence of the wide public support for the government's course of reforms.

"The referendum has confirmed that the course for changes is supported by the people,” the ministry’s statement said. “The influence of those opposition groups that called for boycotting the referendum is restricted and gives them no exclusive right to speak on behalf of the Syrian people."

The adopted constitution includes 14 new and 47 amended articles. The reforms put forward by President Assad are designed to stop the bloody uprising and pave the way for free elections in the country.

Despite the fact that the opposition boycotted the referendum, calling it an empty gesture, and urging for mass protests, there were no public order violations in Damascus during the vote.

Western politicians considered the referendum to be a farce, with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton calling it "a cynical ploy" and German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle describing it as a "sham vote."

Meanwhile, on Monday the European Union has slapped the Syrian government with its toughest set of sanctions yet. They include an asset freeze on officials, and a ban on importing precious metals and minerals from the country. 

More than a year since the uprising in Syria began, violence is still raging on in some parts of the country, including the flashpoint city of Homs, where dozens were reported killed during the weekend.