Syria votes yes to Bashar al-Assad
Syria-Lebanon-Angola, Politics, 7/11/2000
The Syrian citizens with a great majority voted for the new President Bashar al-Assad in succession of his father the Late President Hafez al-Assad. Therefore, Bashar al-Assad is President number 6 in Syria since the Baath Arab socialist party ascended to power in Syria in 1963.
According to the Syrian constitution the President's term of office lasts for seven years.
The great turning out on the balloting stations started at 7 a.m. ( damascus time) on Monday and ended at 10 p.m., the same day. No law-violation incident was reported at the country's 11185 polling centers.
The designate president Bashar al-Assad cast his vote at martyr Bassel Hafez al-Assad Institute ( where he was educated for 12 years) in Damascus.
As the people surrounding the polling station at the institute and other neighboring centers heard about al-Assad's visit, they flocked spontaneously to the institute and voiced slogans commemorating the traits of the President designate.
Then, al-Assad visited the school's teaching staff saying: " I chose this center because I was educated at this school and I have for you such feelings of gratitude."
He added that " man inspires elements of success or failure from two sources: his home and his school. I am here at my school with my teachers to recall my memoirs. I was brought up here and all feelings of love I feel in the streets and the homes, you played a role in it."
All Syrian officials cast their votes at various ballot stations in Damascus and made statements on this occasion.
The foreign minister Farouk al-Shara cast his vote for electing al-Assad for the Syrian presidency at the foreign ministry's referendum center. He told media reporters and correspondents of Arab and foreign news agencies that: "We have faced great challenges since the death of President Hafez al-Assad one month ago. There were some bets in the region and the world on this catastrophic incident. These bets were preceded by other two bets, one on the illness of President al-Assad and another on the succession and what might result from the lack of stability. All these bets were (came to nothing). The referendum was an evidence on that since it went quietly and we are confident that Dr. Bashar and those around him will be able to overcome difficult challenges in the coming phase. They are able to continue Late President Hafez al-Assad's policy with determination and to cope with the requirements of the age by modernizing laws and canceling some of these laws. So, the citizen in Syria will be able to effectively contribute to the building of the homeland."
On the peace process on the Syrian track, al-Shara said: " Syria has been supporting peace since and before the Madrid peace conference and it is still committed to its right in the peace process, namely the full restoration of the occupied Arab lands up to June 4, 1967 border lines."
Al-Shara's stressed that this demand is basic and non-negotiable. "If Israel finds that it can abide by such a withdrawal according to UN resolutions and the land for peace formula, Syria will not hesitate to resume the peace process," al-Shara said.
He added: " We know that Israel has internal problems that we do not want to discuss. But we surely have the confidence that these problems are a result of its inability to deal with the peace process during the past few years. We believe that the Israeli government which has ignored Arab and international calls for establishing peace in the two past years, especially before its forced withdrawal from South Lebanon, should reconsider its position to enable the peace process to the right track."
Al-Shara said that Syria's aim is to restore the whole of the Golan heights up to June 4th lines of 1967. This is also in the mind and conscience of lt. Gen. Bashar al-assad. "This stand is in line with the policy pursued by the late great leader, President Hafez al-Assad. Al-Shara added that the Syrian people who vote today for Lt. Gen. Bashar al-Assad are confident that he will lead the struggler to restore all our occupied Arab lands and build modern Syria with the participation of the people," he added.
"I am confident in the coming stage, despite the fact I do not want to raise the ceiling of expectations because we are all concerning with the participation of this process. We are concerned with shouldering the responsibility with Lt. Gen. Bashar al- Assad. We stand with him and we all push forward to achieve pour goals."
On the revival of the UN role in the ME peace process, the Syrian foreign minister said: " Despite the fact that the peace process is a US- Russian initiative since the Madrid conference, the achievement so far does not fit with the weight of the US and Russia. If the Americans are able to resume peace talks on the ground of the Madrid principles to help achieve a just and comprehensive peace that restores all our occupied land and usurped rights and offers security and peace for all, Syria will welcome that. From the very beginning, we believed the UN had an important role to play in the ME peace process. We still believe that it is able to play such a role."
Al-Shara said: " When the UN secretary general Kofi Annan visited Syria we welcomed the idea of a bigger role in implementing all UN Security Council resolutions. As UN resolution 425 was applicable to Lebanon to ensure complete withdrawal to the internationally recognized borders, the UN resolution 242 is also applicable to the Golan and should ensure complete Israeli withdrawal up to June 4, 1967 lines."
Earlier in the day, the Syrian Prime Minister Muhammad Mustafa Miro cast his voted at damascus Khaled Bin al-Walid school in the old quarters of the city. Arab and foreign media correspondents were there.
In a statement to reporters Miro said: " when we chose Dr. Bashar al-Assad for our presidency, we expressed our determination to maintain the continuity of his values and school as represented by lt. Gen. Bashar al-Assad."
He added that the election of "Dr. Bashar means to Syria and to the Syrian people a continuity in consolidating the achievements and making all out efforts to upgrade the level of performance in government's establishments. It also means cohesion for liberating the land and achieving a just and comprehensive peace that restores land up to June 4, 1967 lines and to restoring back the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people."
He said " now economic cooperation with Lebanon is proceeding. Eventually wider channels will be open for the interests of the two peoples and for the promotion of both the economics of Syria and Lebanon."
The Syrian prime minister expressed the readiness of the Syrian government to receive more Lebanese banks if these banks are willing to open new branches for themselves in Syria.
Replying to a question on the role played by the private sector in Syria, Miro said " The private sector in Syria is one of the main sectors we embark on to develop the national economy, in reactivating the private sector and through mending law no 10 of 1991 on encouraging investment we have opened new prospects before the private and joint sectors."
Similar speeches were made by vice President Khaddam, the speaker of the Syrian parliament Abdul Qader Qaddoura, and the assistant regional secretary of the Baath party Suleiman Qaddah.
In his statements to Arab and foreign reporters after he cast his vote at the ministry of information, Information Minister Adnan Omran said: "there exists a program based on the positives witnessed in Syria since the launching of the Correctionist Movement ( which brought the late resident al-Assad to power in 1970) in all areas and on reviewing the negatives. There is an economic modernization based on openness and building a sound national economy." The Syrian information minister added that lt. Gen. Bashar al-Assad has raised slogans behind which every citizen has rallied, namely fighting corruption, and providing equal opportunities for all."
Late update: Results of the referendum in Syria
In a press conference held today at the headquarters of the Syrian ministry of the Interior, and attended by Arab and foreign journalists and media reports and correspondents in Damascus, the Syrian minister of the Interior Muhammad Harba today ( Tuesday ) announced that number of citizens who agreed on the candidate of the People s Assembly PA Lt. Gen. to the post of President was 8,689, 871 out of the total number of those who took part in the referendum whose number was 8,931,623. The minister added that the rate of those who agreed Lt. Gen. Bashar al-Assad as a President of the Syrian Arab Republic is 97.29%.
The minister of the interior added that number of those who disagreed Lt. Gen. al-Assad to be the President was 22439, representing 2.51 per thousand of the voters and number of null and void voting cards was 219313 representing a rate of 2.45 of the total voting cards.
The minister explained that number of Syrian citizens who are eligible to voting, according to the declared official lists, according to the referendum law is 9, 442. 054.
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