Syria’s Assad wins controversial election in a predictable landslide

Over 5 million refugees have largely refrained from casting their ballots.

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Bashar Al-Assad has been re-elected in a landslide, officials said on Thursday, ushering in a fourth seven-year term in the war-torn country, following an election described as illegitimate and a sham by the West and the Syrian opposition.

Assad’s win was not in doubt in the eyes of international media outlets, in an election where officials said 18 million were eligible to vote. But in the country ravaged by the 10-year-old conflict, areas controlled by the opposition or YPG/PKK terrorists did not hold the vote. At least 8 million, mostly displaced, people live in the areas concerned. Furthermore, over 5 million refugees mostly living in neighboring countries have largely refrained from casting their ballots.

US and European officials have also questioned the legitimacy of the election, saying it violates UN resolutions in place to resolve the conflict, lacks any international monitoring, and is unrepresentative of all Syrians.

The parliament speaker of the Assad government, Hammoud Sabbagh, announced the final results from Wednesday’s vote. He said Assad garnered 95.1 percent of the votes, while the turnout stood at 78.6 percent, in an election that lasted for 17 hours on Wednesday with no independent monitors.

Assad was facing symbolic competition from two candidates a former minister and a former opposition figure.

Assad’s victory comes as the country is still devastated by the conflict. Fighting has subsided though the country’s economic crisis is getting worse, where over 80 percent of the population lives below the poverty line and the local currency is in a free fall.

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