Syrian media hails referendum ‘victory’

State media on Tuesday hailed as a "victory for Syria" the adoption by referendum of a new constitution that ends the ruling Baath party's monopoly on power but which leaves extensive powers in the president's hands.

"The success of the referendum on the constitution represents a victory for Syria, and not for any party, government or political movement, as some are trying to claim," said the official daily Al-Baath.
The new law fundamentally "opens the way to an era of political consensus and the consolidation of liberties and the concept of citizenship," said the mouthpiece of the ruling Baath party.
Syrians' voted on Sunday for a new constitution brought in by President Bashar al-Assad after 11 months of anti-regime protests, with 89.4 percent of voters backing the charter and a turnout of 57.4 percent, according to Interior Minister Mohammed al-Shaar.
The constitution ends the legal basis for the five-decade stranglehold on power of Assad's Baath party but still leaves huge powers in his hands.
The opposition said the changes were cosmetic after nearly a year of repression by Assad's security forces that human rights groups say have left more than 7,600 people dead.
"The opinions of 750,000 [no] voters and of the six million who abstained will be respected, since the goal is to overcome the current [crisis], Al-Baath newspaper said.
"Those who drafted the constitution do not claim that it is perfect and that it cannot be subject to amendment."
The official Tishrin newspaper said the vote amounted to a "defeat" inflicted on "states which incite violence by urging the opposition to refuse all dialogue or through their support for armed groups."
Those states "have delivered diatribes and have made threats such as those of [Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh] Hamad bin Jassem [Al-Thani], who advocates arming the opposition to make the blood of Syrians flow."
The Qatari premier on Monday called for the arming of Syrian rebels.
"We should do whatever necessary to help them, including giving them weapons to defend themselves," he said during an official visit to Norway.

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