Bashar al-Assad wins fourth term as Syrian President

Damascus:¬†Incumbent Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has won his fourth seven-year term in the presidential election held earlier this week, the country’s Parliament announced .

In a statement on Thursday, Parliament Speaker Hamoudeh Sabbagh said that Assad won 95.1 per cent of the vote as opposed to 88.7 per cent in the 2014 election, reports Xinhua news agency.

He said that about 14 million of the estimated 18 million eligible voters inside and outside Syria cast their votes, with a turnout rate of 78.64 per cent.

Following the announcement, huge crowds of Assad supporters on Thursday night filled the Umayyad Square in Damascus to celebrate his win, waving Syrian flags and posters of the President, while music was blaring from loudspeakers.

Banners supporting Assad adorned the square and main streets in the capital.

Assad’s win was largely anticipated as his competitors in the race were a low-profile opposition figure and a former cabinet minister.

The election was held on Wednesday with the polling stations open until midnight.

The government had been encouraging voters to cast their votes for the “future of Syria”.

On July 17, 2000, Assad succeeded his father Hafez al-Assad as the Syrian president.

In 2014, Bashar al-Assad was re-elected for a third term after winning by a landslide in Syria’s first multi-candidate election.

Syria’s crisis started with peaceful pro-democracy protests in March 2011.

It soon evolved into a full-blown conflict, drawing in foreign fighters and powers.