Bashar Assad Elected Syrian President with 97.29 Percent of Votes
Bashar Assad won 97.29 percent of the votes in Monday's nationwide referendum, becoming Syria's 16th president, Interior Minister Mohammed Harbah said Tuesday, reported AFP.
Syrians flocked Monday to polling stations around the country to endorse Assad as the country's new president following the death of his father, Hafez Assad, last month.
So great was the turnout that polling was extended by three hours to 2200 local time (1900 GMT), said BBC.online.
Bashar's swift rise to power was smoothed by the endorsement of the country's political and military elites.
All of the country's organized groups and parties have issued statements affirming their confidence in Bashar; rallies of support have continued since his father's death.
Counting started immediately after the 11,000 polling stations.
The hundreds of thousands of Syrian workers - and 35,000 troops - in Lebanon voted there on Monday.
The swearing-in ceremony is expected on Thursday.
Bashar voted at his old school amid cheers, hugs and kisses from the students, said the BBC.
He was quoted as saying he voted there because he owed the school a favor.
"A person acquires the elements of success or failure from two sources, the home and the school," he said.
Some voters pricked their thumbs and used their blood to mark "yes" on their ballot papers.
Shortly after the death of Hafez Assad, the country's power elite quickly appointed Bashar to a number of positions to ensure his smooth accession.
But, according to the BBC, Syrians and outside observers are waiting to see whether he has the qualities to lead a state with a history of vicious power struggles, to shake up an entrenched elite by introducing economic reform and easing rigid political control.
"You know that big challenges faced us with the loss of president Assad," Foreign Minister Farouq Shara told reporters as he voted on Monday.
"There has been a lot of betting on the succession, that the absence of Assad would lead to instability and ambiguity. We thank God that all these bets have lost."
Syrian dissidents in exile have said that the Bashar is not the best candidate - he is simply the only candidate, and his election will confirm the principle of a hereditary republic, said the BBC – (Several Sources).
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