President Bashar al-Assad of Syria has, as expected, won the presidential elections with very broad figures. With 95.1 percent of the vote, he is re-elected for a fourth term of seven years, state media report. In capital Damascus, his victory was celebrated by supporters on the streets.
The opposition and the West describe the elections as a sham. The 55-year-old Assad has ruled the civil war-torn Syria since 2000 with a hard hand and has been accused of terrible war crimes by several Western governments. For him, his father ruled the country for decades.
According to the president of parliament, the turnout at the ballot box was 78.6% this time. Assads two opponents were approved by the regime. Election observers were not welcome.
Many voters fled
Officially, 18 million citizens were able to vote until Wednesday midnight. An estimated 8 million, mainly fled, Syrians are in rebel territory and were unable to go to the polls. The vast majority of the 5 million Syrian refugees abroad did not vote either.
While in the north of the country people feared a victory for Assad, Damascus residents were enthusiastic about the prospect: