Syria's Bashar Al Assad wins landslide election as US and EU question legitimacy

Syrian officials say president took 95.1 per cent of vote

Supporters of of Syria's President Bashar al-Assad celebrate after the results of the presidential election announced that he won a fourth term in office, in Damascus, Syria, May 27, 2021. REUTERS/Omar Sanadiki

Syria's President Bashar Al Assad has been re-elected with 95.1 per cent of the vote, the country's Parliamentary Speaker announced on Thursday.

But the election has been criticised by the opposition and western nations.

The two other presidential candidates, former state minister Abdallah Abdallah and Mahmoud Marei, a member of the "tolerated opposition", received 1.5 per cent and 3.3 per cent of the vote, official results show.

This will be Mr Al Assad's fourth seven-year term

But areas controlled by rebel groups in Syria, which has been ravaged by a 10-year civil war, boycotted the election.

At least eight million people, mostly displaced, live in these areas in the north-west and north-east of the country.

More than five million refugees, mostly living in neighbouring countries, largely refrained from casting their ballots.

US and European officials have questioned the legitimacy of the election, saying it breached UN resolutions in place to resolve the conflict, had no international monitoring and does not represent all Syrians.

The Syria Speaker, Hammouda Sabbagh, said that of the 18 million people eligible to vote, 78.6 per cent took part.

Syrians wave national flags and a large portrait of their president as they celebrate in the streets of the capital Damascus, a day after an election set to give the current President Bashar al-Assad a fourth term, on May 27, 2021. The election held yesterday in government-held areas was the second presidential vote in Syria since the start in 2011 of a war that has left over 388,000 dead.  / AFP / LOUAI BESHARA

Mr Al Assad and close associates, family members and government officials have been the target of sanctions by the US, the EU and others in the international community for human rights abuses.

Damascus erupted into celebration after the announcement of the results, with gunfire and fireworks lighting the night sky.

Thousands gathered in major squares in Damascus and the coastal city of Tartus, dancing while waving flags and pictures of Mr Al Assad.

A large stage was set up in Omayyad Square in the capital, with loudspeakers playing patriotic songs.

Almost no one was wearing a face mask, even though Syria is experiencing a surge of coronavirus cases.

Supporters chanted, “With our soul, blood, we defend you Bashar”, and “We only choose three: God, Syria and Bashar".

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