Syria's Bashar al-Assad wins 88.7% votes to become third time president

Syria's beleaguered President Bashar al-Assad has won 88.7 per cent of the votes cast in the presidential election, parliament speaker Mohammad al-Laham announced on Wednesday.

Syria's Bashar al-AssadTens of thousands of Syrians in government-controlled cities and towns defied opposition to the Assad regime and voted en masse on Tuesday to give Assad a new seven-year mandate, with some even marking the ballots with their own blood.

Assad has now secured a third term in office despite a West-supported civil war fanned out of protests against his rule.

Polling, however, could not be held in opposition controlled areas and western leaders called the elections a sham.

Assad's victory would bolster his support base at home while at the same time extending chances of the protracted conflict getting more complicated with support from western powers.

Voting took place only in government-controlled areas, excluding much of northern and eastern Syria and the more than 2.7 million Syrian refugees across the region who either abstained or were excluded by law.

According to the interior ministry, there were 15.8 million eligible voters, both inside and outside Syria, and there were a total of 9,600 voting centers around the country.

Despite all the flaws in Syria's election, it underscored the considerable support that President Bashar Assad, who assumed power in 2000, after the death of his father, Hafez, has enjoyed support across the country.

Assad, who belongs to the minority Alawite sect, an offshoot of Shiite Islam, still enjoys support from the population, including many in the majority Sunni Muslim community, who seek to topple Assad.

President Assad has also support from across the country's Christian and Muslim minorities, who want to help keep Assad in power for their own good.