Syrians voted overwhelmingly in a national referendum on Wednesday (8 February) to endorse President Hafez al-Assad for a second seven-year term of office.
Syrians voted overwhelmingly in a national referendum on Wednesday (8 February) to endorse President Hafez al-Assad for a second seven-year term of office. The President had pledged to continue his opposition to Egypt's bid for a peace deal with Israel.
SYNOPSIS: More than four million Syrians were eligible to vote in the referendum which was called in January after the country's parliament, the People's Council, approved the nomination.
Campaigning for the President continued after the polls had opened.
His name had been put forward for another term by the leadership of the ruling Arab Ba'ath Socialist Party. President Assad was the only candidate. According to official figures issued a day after the poll, more than 99 percent of those who voted endorsed the President.
Before the poll massive rallies and processions were staged to support President Assad, the first Syrian head of state since independence 35 years ago to complete seven continuous years in office. His first term saw the launching of war jointly with Egypt against Israel in October 1973.
After he'd arrived to cast his own vote at a polling station in Damascus President Assad told reporters Egypt's peace initiative was not in the interest of the Arab nation. He urged Arab unity against what he described as surrender moves.
Outside people danced in the city's main square and streets. Later, when the result was known marches were held through the capital to express approval at the outcome.
Reuters news agency reported that President Assad could form a new government after starting his new term. He is regarded as a hard-liner among Arab leaders, and the referendum was seen as consolidating his stand against what he called 'defeatist attempts'.