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Syria's Assad endorses new constitution

(Xinhua)

16:55, February 28, 2012

DAMASCUS, Feb. 28 (Xinhua) -- Syrian President Bashar al-Assad endorsed Tuesday the new constitution, which was approved a day earlier by 89 percent of eligible voters, state-run SANA news agency reported.

Quoting Assad, SANA said the constitution took legal effect Monday after the announcement of the voting results by Interior Minister Mohammad Chaar.

Chaar said Monday that as many as 89.4 percent voters supported the new draft constitution.

Chaar told a press conference that a total of 8,376,447 citizens, or 57.4 percent of eligible voters, voted in the referendum on the new draft constitution, with 7,490,319 (89.4 percent) agreeing to it and 753,208 (9 percent) saying "No".

There were 132,920 invalid ballots, which makes up 1.6 percent of the votes, Chaar said.

Chaar said that there was a good turnout, despite the threats by some armed terrorist groups in certain areas and the accompanying distortion and instigation campaigns by external media, which attempted to prevent citizens from practicing their right to vote and harm the democratic process.

The results of the popular referendum were met with skepticism among opposition figures at home, who dismissed it as "unreal and totally fabricated."

"In fact I can say for sure that these numbers have nothing to do with the reality and totally fabricated," Abdulaziz Khaier, a member of the opposing National Coordination Body told Xinhua Monday.

Another opponent, Loai Hussain, head of the opposing "Building Syria State" party told Xinhua that "We don't trust the polling rates, especially in the absence of Arab and international supervision over the referendum process."

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