Bashar Wins 97.29% in Syrian Presidential Vote

DAMASCUS (Reuters)–Bashar al-Assad won 97.29 percent of the votes in a referendum to confirm him as president of Syria–succeeding his late father Hafez al-Assad–Interior Minister Mohammed Harba said on Tuesday.

He told a televised news conference that about one quarter of one percent of those voting on Monday opposed the 34-year-old eye doctor becoming president for the next seven years. The remaining ballots were spoiled. Harba said turnout was virtually 100 percent.

“Our masses said yes to the constant course–yes to the bright future,” the interior minister declared.

Newspapers had already proclaimed Bashar winner of the single-candidate referendum even before Harba’s announcement.

Parliament is expected to meet on Thursday for the formal inauguration ceremony and Bashar is expected to outline his foreign and domestic policies in a speech to the assembly.

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