Syrian President Bashar al-Assad won his fourth term with 95.1% of the vote in an election that will further increase his time in the government of a war-torn country, but which his opponents and the West say have been marked by fraud.
The Assad government says the election shows that Syria is functioning normally even after a decade of conflict, which has killed hundreds of thousands and driven 11 million people – about half the population – from their homes.
The head of parliament, Hammouda Sabbagh, announced the result at a news conference on Thursday, saying the level of turnout was 78%.
The election went ahead despite a UN-led peace process that had asked for the vote to take place under international supervision and to help pave the way for a new constitution and political agreement.
The victory guarantees Assad another seven years in power and extends the permanence of his family in power, for almost six decades. His father, Hafez al-Assad, led Syria for 30 years, until his death in 2000.
Assad’s years in the presidency are marked by the conflict that started in 2011 with peaceful protests before it got out of hand and became a multilateral conflict that fragmented the country.
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