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Syria Adopts New Constitution Amid Bloodshed

Syria adopted a new Constitution on Monday after President Bashar al-Assad signed on the draft that was "overwhelmingly" approved at the weekend referendum, the state-run SANA news agency reported.

The referendum was held amid ongoing bloodshed in the Opposition stronghold city of Homs.

The U.N. Human Rights Council is holding an emergency meeting in Geneva to discuss the Syrian crisis.

SANA said on Tuesday that the new Constitution came into effect on February 27, and that Assad issued a decree on publishing the Constitution of the Syrian Arab Republic in the official gazette.

Syria's Interior Ministry said on Monday that nearly 90 percent of voters who turned up for Sunday's voting were in favor of the Constitution.

The Ministry put the voter turn-out at 57.4 percent, but foreign diplomats who observed the polling stations in capital Damascus cast doubt in the official claim, saying that they had seen very few voters take part.

The Opposition, which called to boycott the referendum, said these numbers were far from the actual turn-out and totally fabricated.

The new Constitution paves the way to a multi-party system in Syria after the withdrawal of the notorious eighth article on the leading role of the ruling Arab Socialist Baath Party in the state and society.

The new Constitution says the term of office of the current President terminates after seven years of his being sworn in, and that he has the right to stand for re-election. Elections to the first People's Assembly under the new Constitution shall be held within 90 days.

Washington termed the referendum a "sham" and "laughable," while Moscow described it as an important step toward democracy.

by RTTNews Staff Writer

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