Syria's Assad wins presidential vote in landslide

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Syria's Assad wins presidential vote in landslide
In this photo released on the official Facebook page of the Syrian Presidency, Syrian President Bashar Assad, center, casts his vote as Syrian first lady Asma Assad, right, stands next to him at a polling station, in Damascus, Syria, Tuesday, June 3, 2014. Thousands of Syrians lined up outside polling centers in government-controlled areas around the country to vote Tuesday in the presidential election that Assad is widely expected to win but which has been denounced by critics as a sham. (AP Photo/Syrian Presidency via Facebook)
ALEPPO, SYRIA - JUNE 04: Syrians inspect a building collapsed in an air strike by forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad in the opposition controlled Al-Ansari neighborhood of Aleppo, Syria on June 04, 2014. More than 100,000 people have been killed during the ongoing three-year conflict in Syria, which has also internally displaced more than 6.5 million people, according to the U.N. Over two million Syrians are now registered as refugees in neighboring Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq. (Photo by Salih Mahmud Leyla/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Syrians dance in the street as they celebrate outside a polling station in Damascus while people cast their ballots in the country's presidential election on June 3, 2014. Voting offices opened in Syrian regime-held areas for a presidential election that current President Bashar al-Assad is certain to win, and that has been slammed as a 'farce' by the opposition. LOUAI BESHARA/AFP/Getty Images
This photo provided by the anti-government activist group Aleppo Media Center (AMC), which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, shows Syrian citizens carrying a man who was injured by a government forces airstrike, in Aleppo, Syria. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry sharply criticized Syria's presidential vote this week as "a great big zero," and said it can't be considered fair "because you can't have an election where millions of your people don't even have an ability to vote."(AP Photo/Aleppo Media Center, AMC)
This photo provided by the anti-government activist group Aleppo Media Center (AMC), which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, shows a Syrian man looking at a damaged pickup which was carrying house belongings on a street that attacked by a government forces airstrike, in Aleppo, Syria. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry sharply criticized Syria's presidential vote this week as "a great big zero," and said it can't be considered fair "because you can't have an election where millions of your people don't even have an ability to vote."(AP Photo/Aleppo Media Center, AMC)
DAMASCUS, SYRIA - JUNE 3: A woman votes for the presidential election in Damascus, Syria on 3 June, 2014. Candidates are current president Bashar al-Assad, politician Maher Abdul-Hafiz Hajjar and former minister Hassan al-Nouri for the presidential election. Around 15 million eligible voters are casting their ballots in more than 9,600 polling stations which have been set up in government-held areas. Voting starts at 4 in the morning and finishes at 5 in the evening. Voting will continue tomorrow. (Photo by Ali Demir/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Syrian men pretend they are casting their votes during a mock election calling for the 'criminal' Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to the stripped of his Syrian nationality, on June 3, 2014 in the mostly rebel-held city of Aleppo. Syrians in regime-held areas voted in a controversial presidential election in which Assad is looking to boost his grip but which the opposition has slammed as a 'farce'. BARAA AL-HALABI/AFP/Getty Images
DAMASCUS, SYRIA - JUNE 3: A woman votes for the presidential election in Damascus, Syria on 3 June, 2014. Candidates are current president Bashar al-Assad, politician Maher Abdul-Hafiz Hajjar and former minister Hassan al-Nouri for the presidential election. Around 15 million eligible voters are casting their ballots in more than 9,600 polling stations which have been set up in government-held areas. Voting starts at 4 in the morning and finishes at 5 in the evening. Voting will continue tomorrow. (Photo by Ali Demir/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Syrians wave their national flag as they drive through Damascus celebrating as Syrians cast their ballots in the country's presidential election on June 3, 2014. Voting offices opened in Syrian regime-held areas for a presidential election that current President Bashar al-Assad is certain to win, and that has been slammed as a 'farce' by the opposition.  LOUAI BESHARA/AFP/Getty Images
In this photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, Syrian President Bashar Assad, left, and first lady Asma Assad, right, leave a voting booth to cast their vote at a polling center, in Damascus, Syria, Tuesday June 3, 2014. Thousands of Syrians lined up outside polling centers in government-controlled areas around the country to vote Tuesday in the presidential election that Bashar Assad is widely expected to win but which has been denounced by critics as a sham. (AP Photo/SANA)
A Syrian woman casts her ballot as she votes in the presidential election on June 3, 2014 at a polling station in Damascus. Voting offices opened in Syrian regime-held areas for a presidential election that al-Assad is certain to win, and that has been slammed as a 'farce' by the opposition. LOUAI BESHARA/AFP/Getty Images
DAMASCUS, SYRIA - JUNE 3: A voting paper for presidential election is seen on the photo in Damascus, Syria on 3 June, 2014. Voting starts at 4 in the morning and finishes at 5 in the evening. Current president Bashar al-Assad, politician Maher Abdul-Hafiz Hajjar and former minister Hassan Abdullah al-Nuri are candidates for the presidential election in Syria. Voting will continue tomorrow. (Photo by Ali Demir/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
A Syrian woman casts her ballot as she votes in presidential election on June 3, 2014 at Bassel al-Assad school turned into a polling station in central Damascus. Voting offices opened in Syrian regime-held areas for a presidential election that President Bashar al-Assad is certain to win, and that has been slammed as a 'farce' by the opposition. Bassel al-Assad is the late older brother of Bashar al-Assad.  LOUAI BESHARA/AFP/Getty Images
A Syrian woman shows a ballot paper bearing the portraits of the three presidential candidates (LtoR): Maher Abdel Hafiz Hajjar, Hassan Abdallah al-Nuri and President Bashar al-Assad on June 3, 2014 during the presidential election at a polling station in central Damascus. Voting offices opened in Syrian regime-held areas for a presidential election that al-Assad is certain to win, and that has been slammed as a 'farce' by the opposition. LOUAI BESHARA/AFP/Getty Images
A Syrian man shows a ballot paper bearing the portraits of the three presidential candidates (LtoR): Maher Abdel Hafiz Hajjar, Hassan Abdallah al-Nuri and President Bashar al-Assad on June 3, 2014 during the presidential election at Bassel al-Assad school turned into a polling station in central Damascus. Voting offices opened in Syrian regime-held areas for a presidential election that al-Assad is certain to win, and that has been slammed as a 'farce' by the opposition. Bassel al-Assad is the late older brother of Bashar al-Assad. LOUAI BESHARA/AFP/Getty Images)
Performers take part in a protest action symbolising a forced and repressive election, organized by Syrian-born artist Rami Hassoun, against the Syrian elections, in Lyon, eastern France, on June 3, 2014. Syrians voted today in a presidential election in which Bashar al-Assad is looking to tighten his grip on power as his forces battle rebels in a devastating three-year war. Assad faces two little-known challengers and is expected to win, despite a massive rebellion and a war the UN has warned is likely to drag on even longer as a result of the vote. JEAN-PHILIPPE KSIAZEK/AFP/Getty Images
A man takes a photo of posters mocking Syrian president Bashar al-Assad near the Madeleine Church in Paris, on June 2, 2014, a day before the presidential election in Syria. Syria geared up today for an election expected to keep Assad as president but derided as a 'farce' and only staged in regime-held parts of the war-ravaged country. AFP PHOTO/AMMAR ABD RABBO == NO SALE == NO MAGAZINES == (Photo credit should read AMMAR ABD RABBO/AFP/Getty Images)
DAMASCUS, SYRIA - JUNE 2: Banners of Bashar al-Assad on the streets of Damascus within the presidential election campaign to be held on June 3, 2014. (Photo by Ali Demir/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
DAMASCUS, SYRIA - JUNE 2: Banners of Bashar al-Assad on the streets of Damascus within the presidential election campaign to be held on June 3, 2014. (Photo by Ali Demir/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
DAMASCUS, SYRIA - JUNE 2: Banners of Bashar al-Assad on the streets of Damascus within the presidential election campaign to be held on June 3, 2014. (Photo by Ali Demir/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
DAMASCUS, SYRIA - JUNE 2: Banners of Bashar al-Assad on the streets of Damascus within the presidential election campaign to be held on June 3, 2014. (Photo by Ali Demir/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
A Syrian woman casts her ballot as she votes in presidential election on June 3, 2014 at Bassel al-Assad school turned into a polling station in central Damascus. Voting offices opened in Syrian regime-held areas for a presidential election that President Bashar al-Assad is certain to win, and that has been slammed as a 'farce' by the opposition. Bassel al-Assad is the late older brother of Bashar al-Assad. In the background on the wall is portraits of the three candidates (LtoR): Maher Abdel Hafiz Hajjar, al-Assad and Hassan Abdallah al-Nuri. AFP PHOTO/ LOUAI BESHARA (Photo credit should read LOUAI BESHARA/AFP/Getty Images)
A Syrian man presses his thumb, a drop of blood on it, onto a ballot paper bearing the portraits of the three presidential candidates on June 3, 2014 during the presidential election at Bassel al-Assad school turned into a polling station in central Damascus. Voting offices opened in Syrian regime-held areas for a presidential election that current President Bashar al-Assad is certain to win, and that has been slammed as a 'farce' by the opposition. Bassel al-Assad is the late older brother of Bashar al-Assad. AFP PHOTO/ LOUAI BESHARA (Photo credit should read LOUAI BESHARA/AFP/Getty Images)
DAMASCUS, SYRIA - JUNE 3: A man is seen after voting on presidential election in Damascus, Syria on 3 June, 2014. Voting starts at 4 in the morning and finishes at 5 in the evening. Bashar al-Assad, politician Maher Abdul-Hafiz Hajjar and former minister Hassan Abdullah al-Nuri are candidates for the presidential election in Syria. Voting will continue tomorrow. (Photo by Ali Demir/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Syrian head of the National Initiative for Change opposition group and presidential candidate, Hassan Abdallah al-Nuri shows his ink-strained finger after voting in presidential election on June 3, 2014 at a polling station at Sheraton Hotel in Damascus. Syrian current President Bashar al-Assad voted as well in Damascus in an election expected to give him a sweeping win over two little-known challengers, state television reported. AFP PHOTO/ LOUAI BESHARA (Photo credit should read LOUAI BESHARA/AFP/Getty Images)
Syrians present their documents before voting in the presidential election on June 3, 2014 at a polling station in Damascus. Voting offices opened in Syrian regime-held areas for a presidential election that al-Assad is certain to win, and that has been slammed as a 'farce' by the opposition. AFP PHOTO/ LOUAI BESHARA (Photo credit should read LOUAI BESHARA/AFP/Getty Images)
Syrians drive their vehicle past a campaign billboard bearing the portrait of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on June 1, 2014 in the capital Damascus. Syria began its last day of campaigning for the June 3 presidential elections expected to return incumbent Bashar al-Assad to power, a vote the opposition has labelled a 'parody of democracy'. In the background is historical al-Hijaz railway station. JOSEPH EID/AFP/Getty Images
A traffic policeman rests in front of a building with posters of Syrian President Bashar Assad in Damascus, Syria, Tuesday, June 3, 2014. Polls opened in government-held areas in Syria amid very tight security Tuesday for the country's presidential election, a vote that President Bashar Assad is widely expected to win. (AP Photo/Dusan Vranic)
A man holds a portrait of President Bashar Assad and a national flag at a polling station in Damascus, Syria, Tuesday, June 3, 2014. Polls opened in government-held areas in Syria amid very tight security Tuesday for the country's presidential election, a vote that President Bashar Assad is widely expected to win. (AP Photo/Dusan Vranic)
A man votes for President Bashar Assad in Damascus, Syria, Tuesday, June 3, 2014. Polls opened in government-held areas in Syria amid very tight security Tuesday for the country's presidential election, a vote that President Bashar Assad is widely expected to win. (AP Photo/Dusan Vranic)
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By DIAA HADID
Associated Press

DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) -- Syria's parliament speaker says President Bashar Assad has been re-elected by a landslide, capturing 88.7 percent of the vote.

Jihad Laham said Wednesday Athat ssad's two challengers, Hassan al-Nouri and Maher Hajjar, won 4.3 percent and 3.2 percent respectively.

The Supreme Constitutional Court says turnout was 73.42 percent.

Tuesday's vote was only held in government-controlled areas, and the opposition has denounced the election amid Syria's civil war as a farce.

Assad's victory was always a foregone conclusion, despite the presence of other candidates on the ballot for the first time in decades.

The win boosts his support base, and provides further evidence that Assad has no intention of relinquishing power.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

The head of Syria's Supreme Constitutional Court said Wednesday that turnout in the country's presidential election this week was 73.42 percent.

Majed Khadra said that 11,634,412 out of a total of 15,845,575 eligible voters cast their ballots in Tuesday's polls. Khadra said the court has handed the official election results to the speaker of parliament, who is responsible for announcing them. State television said that the results would be released later Wednesday.

The election, which President Bashar Assad is all but guaranteed to win, was held only in government-held areas, excluding vast chunks of northern and eastern Syria that are under rebel control. The opposition and its allies have denounced the election as a farce.

For the first time in decades, there were multiple candidates on the ballot. In previous presidential elections, Assad and before him his father, Hafez, were elected in single candidate referendums in which voters cast yes-no ballots.

The government has sought to present this vote as a democratic solution to Syria's three-year conflict, although a win for Assad is certain to prolong the war. Much of northern and eastern Syria is in rebel hands, and those in the armed opposition show no signs of relenting in their fight to oust Assad.

Syria's 3-year-old conflict, which activists say has killed more than 160,000 people, has left the international community deeply divided, with the U.S. and its allies backing the revolt against Assad, who enjoys the support of Russia and Iran.

That division persisted in perceptions of Tuesday's vote.

In Beirut, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry sharply criticized the Syrian election, calling it "a great big zero." He said it can't be considered fair "because you can't have an election where millions of your people don't even have an ability to vote."

Kerry Dismisses Syrian Election

"Nothing has changed from the day before the election and the day after. Nothing," Kerry said during a one-day visit to the Lebanese capital. "The conflict is the same, the terror is the same, the killing is the same."

The European Union joined the U.S. in condemning the election, saying in a statement that "it cannot be considered as a genuinely democratic vote."

In Damascus, meanwhile, a delegation led by the government's chief international supporters said Syria's first multi-candidate presidential election in over four decades was transparent and free, and would pave the way for "stability and national agreement."

The delegation of officials from more than 30 countries, including legislators and dignitaries from Iran, Russia and Venezuela, toured polling stations on Tuesday. In a final statement read Wednesday by Alaeddin Boroujerdi, the head of the Iranian parliament's Committee on National Security, the delegation blamed the U.S and its allies for "crimes committed against the Syrian people."

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