Weizman Reportedly Wants to Meet with Assad.
By Richard Engel (VOA-Cairo)
Syria says President Hafez al-Assad has overwhelmingly won another term in office. The Syrian president was almost guaranteed to be re-elected. The election victory gives Assad another seven-year term in office. The 68-year-old former air force pilot has already been Syria's president for 28 years.
Syria's interior minister announced that Assad won more than 99.9 percent of the votes cast Wednesday. His name was the only one on the ballot. The interior ministry said more than 8.9 million people voted for Assad. Only 219 people voted against his re-election. The ministry also said more than 99 percent of Syria's nearly 9 million eligible voters took part in the referendum.
Members of Syria's armed forces and police, who had been barred from voting in parliamentary elections last year, were allowed to vote in the presidential referendum.
Assad's new term begins Saturday when he is expected to outline his policies and possibly reshuffle his cabinet during a special session of parliament.
Political commentators say Syria's presidential referendum and its results are a mere show. Assad also won more than 99.9 percent of the votes during the last referendum seven years ago.
The voting for Assad took place in a carnival-like atmosphere in both Syria and Lebanon, where 35,000 Syrian troops are stationed. Syrians sang and danced as Assad cast the first vote for himself. Pictures of the Syrian president adorned nearly-every government building in Damascus. Even the news announcers on Syrian television have been wearing white T-shirts emblazoned with slogans supporting the Syrian leader.