Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has been re-elected in a landslide, officials said yesterday, capturing another seven-year term in the middle of a bloody three-year-old civil war against his rule that has resulted in over 160,000 deaths and devastated the country, The Guardian website reports today (June 5, 2014).
Assad garnered 88.7 percent of the votes. His two challengers, Hassan al-Nouri and Maher Hajjar, won 4.3 percent and 3.2 percent respectively.
After the results were released, Damascus erupted into a thunderous, rolling clap of celebratory gunfire that appeared to include heavy weaponry.
Assad's victory was a foregone conclusion, despite the presence of other candidates on the ballot for the first time in decades. Voting was held only in government-controlled areas, excluding huge tracks of northern and eastern Syria that are in rebel hands. The opposition and its western allies -- including the United States -- have denounced the election as a farce.