Presidential referendum in Syria
Referendum on a new constitutional term for President Bashar al-Assad started on 7 a.m. of Sunday in all governorates, SANA reported.
With parliament unanimously approving the candidature of the 41-year-old president for a second term, the referendum will inevitably approve Assad as president until the year 2014.
The ruling Baath party has called on voters to give a resounding "yes" to a new mandate for Assad, who it said "will express the hopes of the people and the expectations of the nation".
Sunday's referendum, in which about 12 million Syrians are eligible to vote, is the second involving Bashar al-Assad.
Lawyer Hassan Abdel-Azim, spokesman for six banned parties operating under the umbrella National Democratic Rally (NDR), said that "for there to be real elections", there should be other candidates standing. "The NDR will boycott the referendum because no one has asked the opposition for its opinion. Our claims for an amendment to the electoral law have not been taken into account," he said, according to AFP.
In July 2000, Assad was the sole candidate to succeed his father Hafez who had died the previous month. The official result then showed that Bashar received 97.29 percent of voter support.