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Assad Wins 4th Term With 95% of Votes Cast
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is surrounded by well-wishers after casting his vote at a polling station in Douma, near Damascus in presidential elections on May 26, 2021, widely seen as a sham. (Louai Beshara/AFP via Getty Images)

Assad Wins 4th Term With 95% of Votes Cast

Syrian President Bashar Assad was elected to a fourth term with some 95% of the votes in an election called a farce by many. Voter turnout was 78% in Wednesday’s election, or some 14 million Syrians living in the country and abroad. It is the second presidential poll to be held while the country is gripped in a decadelong civil war.

Syrians were not able to vote in Idlib, which is held by Syrian rebels, or in the northeast of the country, which is held by US-backed Kurds.  Syrians living abroad voted at polling places in their embassies and consulates. Syria’s Supreme Constitutional Court approved three applications out of 51 who applied as candidates.

United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio, and UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said in a statement issued the day before the vote that the election “will neither be free nor fair.” The statement called for the elections to be held under United Nations supervision and said that “all Syrians should be allowed to participate, including internally displaced Syrians, refugees, and members of the diaspora, in a safe and neutral environment.”

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani issued a statement on Friday congratulating Assad on his victory. Hizbullah in Lebanon also congratulated Assad in a statement, saying: “We hope that upcoming years will be a great opportunity for Syria to return to playing its natural and leading role globally and regionally.”

In 2014, Assad won 89% of the vote.

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