Damascus (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The Syrian government will announce today the results of a referendum on constitutional changes held yesterday, described as a "sham" by domestic and foreign opponents of the regime. Participation varied: in the centers where the resistance is greater voter turnout was low. Meanwhile, fighting continues the rebel stronghold Homs. The amendments to the Constitution, which will almost certainly be approved by a large majority, will cancel the one party rule that put Baath Party in power in state and society, introducing political pluralism and putting a seven year cap on the Presidential term (renewable for a second term ). The limit will not be retroactive, which means that Bashar al-Assad, who has already been in power for 11 years, could stay there until 2028, since his current mandate expires in 2014. Parliamentary elections, with the presence of several parties, will be held within three months. The United States and other Western countries have criticized the referendum, but some analysts suggest that many Syrians have not joined the opposition out of loyalty to Assad who distrusts the opposition, and the fear that the fall of Assad could give way to a civil war.
Meanwhile, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has warned the West against the risk of "a Libyan scenario". "A Libyan scenario will not be permitted," he said today, recalling that it is thanks to a UN resolution that the military backed regime change in Libya from the West was possible. "Having learned a bitter lesson, we oppose such resolutions by the UN Security Council, which can be interpreted as a sign of military intervention in the internal processes of Syria." The U.S Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is opposed to arming the opposition to Assad: "We have a very dangerous group of actors in the region: al-Qaeda, Hamas and those who are on the list of terrorists who claim to support the opposition. Many Syrians are more concerned about what will happen next. " The leadership of Hamas in recent days has left his base in Damascus, where it was for many years, in solidarity with the Muslim Brotherhood, which is the main opposition group to Assad.
Like Russia, China vetoed to a resolution of the Security Council on Syrian crisis in the past weeks, and has been criticized by the U.S. government. Today, an editorial in the People's Daily, the newspaper of the Chinese Communist Party, rejected Clinton's accusations, arguing that the U.S. does not have any moral basis'' to'' talk'' with a'' super-selfish arrogance. Hillary Clinton has termed the veto imposed by the two countries as ''despicable''. '' Every country and every people have the right to decide their own destiny. There is no country that has the right to decide the fate of others,'' the newspaper states. The article recalls that the situation in Iraq, almost ten years after the American military invasion,'' has yet to return to a normal life.''