Syria's Assad sworn in for another 7-year term

Syria's Assad sworn in for another 7-year term
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Syrian President Bashar Assad on Saturday was sworn in to begin his fourth seven-year term as head of the country.

The ceremony, which was held at the presidential palace, was attended by several political figures, clergymen, army officers and members of the Syrian parliament, according to The Associated Press.

Assad has remained in power in the country since 2000 following the death of his father, who staged a coup and seized control of the country in 1970. His most recent election in May was described by his opposition and Western observers as illegitimate, the AP noted.

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Both European and U.S. officials have questioned whether the election was fraudulent, citing concerns that U.N. resolutions created to resolve the conflict were violated and that the proceedings were not representative of all Syrians.

Officials reported that the election turnout accounted for nearly 79 percent of the country's 18 million registered voters, and while Assad won just over 95 percent of the vote, his competition was mostly symbolic with just two other candidates running against him, the AP reported.

As the Syrian president starts his new term, the country continues to struggle with an ongoing war and economic crisis. Nearly 80 percent of Syrians live below the poverty line and about half of the population has been displaced due to a 10-year war.

Nearly 400,000 people have lost their lives since the conflict began in 2011, and about 512 children were reportedly killed in Syria due to the fighting last year, according to the AP.