29th January 2005
The announcement of the results came just after the EU adopted sanctions on Syria’s central bank and froze the assets of several Syrian government officials.
The foreign ministers of the 27 EU countries, in a meeting in Brussels on Monday, also banned the purchase of gold, precious metals and diamonds from the country, and banned Syrian cargo flights from the EU.
The names of the Syrian officials sanctioned would be made public on Tuesday in the EU's official journal.
In another development on Monday, Qatar's prime minister said he was in favour of delivering arms to the Syrian opposition that is battling government forces.
"We should do whatever necessary to help them, including giving them weapons to defend themselves," Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim Al Thani said during an official visit to Norway.
"This uprising in Syria now [has lasted] one year. For 10 months, it was peaceful: nobody was carrying weapons, nobody was doing anything. And Bashar continued killing them.
"So I think they're right to defend themselves by weapons and I think we should help these people by all means."
The approved constitution, framed by a committee of 29 people appointed by Assad, would drop the highly controversial Article 8 in the existing charter, which makes the Baath party "the head of state and society".
That would effectively end the monopoly on power the Baathists have enjoyed since they seized power in a 1963 coup that brought Assad's late father, Hafez, to power.
Under the new charter, the president would maintain his grip on broad powers, as he would still name the prime minister and government and, in some cases, could veto legislation.
Article 88 states that the president can be elected for two seven-year terms, but Article 155 says these conditions only take effect after the next election for a head of state, set for 2014.
This means that Assad could theoretically stay at the helm for another 16 years.
This is Syria's third referendum since Assad inherited power from his late father. The first installed him as president in 2000 with an official 97.2 per cent in favour.
The second renewed his term seven years later with 97.6 per cent in favour.
The state media has touted this amazing turnout as testament to the continuing support to the government, while opposition activists as well as some foreign commentators have written it off as a show for cameras. Not much has changed in Homs in the neighborhoods that are under bombardment. A Red Crescent convoy in the weekend was allowed in to take away some civilians, though they were unable to take away the injured journalists or the bodies of the dead journalists.
Wanna go Double Dutch?
9th December 2003
I wouldn't have had much confidence in such a referendum even if there were no upraisings. Taking the civil unrest into account I would trust the results of any referendum even less. But atleast even Russia seems to (slightly) increase pressure on Seria.
29th January 2005
Admiral Donutz;5616540I wouldn't have had much confidence in such a referendum even if there were no upraisings. Taking the civil unrest into account I would trust the results of any referendum even less. But atleast even Russia seems to (slightly) increase pressure on Seria.
The government claimed something like an 85% turnout, which is ridiculous considering what's going on in Syria right now. Then again as I heard a Syrian diplomat (or a functionary of somesort) claim on an interview on NPR, all that's going on in NPR are fabrications by the western media and exaggerations from Islamists, that Syria is infact less 'volatile'.
If they follow through with the referendum's decision to change the original provisions of the Constitution establishing the Ba'ath party as the center of political power in the State, it could mean more accommodation for other voices- but of course in line with those the Ba'ath approves. Essentially most I'll see is we'll have less of the more obvious 'majorities' by the Ba'ath in their Progressive Front, giving more seats to those other parties but still retaining power themselves.