Syria okays constitution

Syrian artillery pounded rebel-held areas of Homs on Monday as President Bashar al-Assad’s government announced that voters had overwhelmingly approved a new constitution in a referendum derided as a sham by his critics at home and abroad.

While foreign powers argued over whether to arm the rebels, the Syrian Interior Ministry said the reformed constitution, which could keep Assad in power until 2028, had received 89.4 per cent approval from more than eight million voters.

Syrian dissidents and Western leaders dismissed as a farce Sunday’s vote, conducted in the midst of the country’s bloodiest turmoil in decades.

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