Majority votes for new Syrian constitution, regime says | News | DW | 27.02.2012
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Majority votes for new Syrian constitution, regime says

Syrians have voted in favor of a new constitution that would end the monopoly of President Bashar al-Assad's Baath party, the regime has said.

Interior Minister Mohammed al-Schaar said in Damascus on Monday that 89.4 percent voted in favor of the new constitution.

He said turnout had reached 57.4 percent out of 14.6 million eligible voters.

The opposition had called for a boycott of Sunday's vote.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov hailed the referendum on Monday as a "movement toward democracy."

His German counterpart, Guido Westerwelle, dubbed it a farce. Western governments have said the referendum was a measure to justify the government's crackdown on dissent.

The new constitution will come into effect as soon as President Assad decrees it.

Earlier in the day European Union foreign ministers imposed new, extended sanctions on the government and some of its top officials and stressed their support for the Syrian opposition.

The restrictions include a ban on entering the European Union, which will affect seven cabinet ministers, adding to a list of 108 people already on a previous list. The sanctions also freeze assets in the EU belonging to the Syrian National Bank and ban all air cargo traffic to Syria from Europe.

Syria has been in the grips of a popular uprising for 11 months. The government crackdown has been increasingly violent. More than 7,600 people have been killed, rights groups say.

ncy/pfd (dpa, AFP, AP, Reuters)