New Syria statute 'wins 89pc approval'
Beirut, February 27, 2012
Around 89 percent of Syrians approved a new constitution, proposed by President Bashar Al-Assad, in a referendum on Sunday, state television said on Monday.
Constitutional reforms are aimed at quelling the growing rebellion against the Assad family's 42 years in power, but Assad's opponents and the West have the dismissed the reforms and the referendum as a sham.
Turnout in the referendum was 57.4 percent, state television said.
Meanwhile, Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani said the international community should provide arms to Syria's opposition and Arab countries should take the lead in providing a safe haven for rebels inside Syria.
"I think we should do whatever is necessary to help them, including giving them weapons to defend themselves," the prime minister said during a visit to Norway.
While the West has dismissed talk of a Libya-style Nato role to support the opponents of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Gulf Arab states have pushed for a more forceful stance. Saudi Arabia said on Friday it would back the idea of arming rebels.
The Qatari prime minister said that Arab countries should take part in an international military effort to stop the bloodshed in Syria after 11 months of insurrection against Assad in which thousands have been killed.
"Since we failed in the Security Council to do something, I think we have to try to do something to send enough military help to stop the killing," he said. -Reuters