Syria Approves Constitution Referendum Amid Violence
Today, President Bashar al-Assad’s government announced voters had “overwhelmingly approved” a new constitution that had be criticized internationally as a “sham.” As foreign powers met in Tunis to devise a plan to expedite Bashar Al-Assad’s departure and halt the ongoing violence taking place across Syria, the Syrian Interior Ministry announced that the constitutions,, which could keep Assad in power until 2028, had received an 89.4% approval by more than eight million voters.
The vote was conducted in the midst of extreme violence, and was decried by the international community as a “farce.” Assad said the new constitution will produce multi-party elections within three months. The new constitution “drops a clause making Assad’s Baath party the leader of state and society,” allows for political pluralism, and limits a president to two seven-year terms. Although Syrian officials reported a 60 percent voter turnout, diplomats touring the polling stations reported seeing “only a handful” of voters.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton rejected the vote as a “sinister ploy.” “It’s a phony referendum that is going to get used by Assad to justify what he is doing to other Syrians,” she told CBS news. Clinton called on Syrian urged soldiers, business leaders, ad minorities to continue to desert him. “The longer you support the regime’s campaign of violence against your brothers and sisters, the more it will stain your honor,” she said.
Opposition groups continued to face government violence demonstrating against the referendum holding signs that read, “we step on the new constitution.” “The Assad regime is arresting hundreds of our sons and brothers, has killed and injured hundreds, so we don’t care about this constitution,” said Ziad, 25, of Ma’adamiah, who only gave his first name out of fear. “Syrians will write their real constitution after we finish this regime.”