Syrian President al-Assad signs draft constitution

February 28th, 2012 - 6:04 pm ICT by IANS  

Moscow, Feb 28 (IANS/RIA Novosti) Syrian President Bashar al-Assad Tuesday signed a draft constitution that was approved a day earlier by nearly 90 percent of voters, the state-run SANA news agency reported.

The government-backed constitution that promises an end to single-party rule and gives the green light to multi-party elections was approved Monday with 89.4 percent of votes in favour of the document.

Though the voting turnover was put at 57.4 percent, foreign diplomats who observed the polling stations in the capital Damascus said they saw very few voters take part.

The opposition had called for a boycott of the referendum amid an ongoing brutal crackdown on the city of Homs.

According to the opposition, 64 people were killed while trying to flee a neighbourhood in Homs during heavy shelling by pro al-Assad forces.

The US has already called the referendum on the new constitution — that could keep al-Assad in power till 2028 — a “sham” and “laughable”.

Russia, however, praised the move and said it was an important step towards democracy.

The new constitution came as both Western and Arab nations increased their pressure on al-Assad’s regime, calling for an immediate end to bloodshed in Syria. According to rights groups, violence has claimed more than 7,000 lives since the beginning of the uprising 11 months ago.

–IANS/RIA Novosti
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