President Bashar al-Assad has won a third term in office after securing 88.7% of votes in Syria’s presidential election, the parliamentary speaker has announced.
Earlier, Syria’s constitutional court put the vote turnout at 73.47%.
Voting took place in government-controlled areas, but not in parts of the north and east held by rebels.
Tens of thousands of people have died in three years of civil war in Syria, with millions more displaced.
Bashar al-Assad’s key challengers, Hassan al-Nouri and Maher Hajjar, received 4.3% and 3.2% of the vote respectively.
It was the first time in decades that more than one person – outside of the Assad family – had been allowed to stand as presidential candidate.
President Bashar al-Assad has won a third term in office after securing 88.7 percent of votes
Bashar al-Assad’s critics and the Syrian opposition in rebel-held areas have dismissed the election as a farce, arguing that it has no credibility in the midst of a civil war.
The opposition’s allies in the West also denounced the ballot, with US Secretary of State John Kerry, on a visit to neighboring Lebanon, describing it as “meaningless”.
The results of the election were announced by parliamentary speaker Mohammad al-Laham on Wednesday.
“I declare the victory of Dr. Bashar Hafez al-Assad as president of the Syrian Arab Republic with an absolute majority of the votes cast in the election,” he announced in a televised address.
Celebratory gunfire erupted in the Syrian capital Damascus after the results, with reports of at least three people killed, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
Syria’s constitutional court had earlier announced that some 11.63 million Syrians voted out of a total of 15.85 million eligible to cast a ballot.
The win is likely to boost Bashar al-Assad’s supporters. The government side has recently made significant military gains and rebel groups are fighting among themselves.
But the vote has faced sharp criticism from the US and its allies.
“You can’t have an election where millions of your people don’t even have an ability to vote,” Secretary of State John Kerry said.
The EU joined the US in condemning the election, saying in a statement that it could not be considered “a genuinely democratic vote”.
Also on Wednesday, a delegation of officials visiting Damascus from more than 30 countries, including Iran, Russia and Venezuela, issued a statement in support of the “transparent and free” elections, the Associated Press reports.
Syrians are voting in the country’s presidential elections amid heightened security.
The poll takes place three years into a civil war in which tens of thousands of people have died and millions more are displaced.
President Bashar al-Assad is widely expected to win a third seven-year term in office.
However, critics of the Syrian government have denounced the election as a sham.
Analysts say Syrian officials have gone to great lengths to present the vote as a way to resolve the crisis.
It is the first time in decades that more than one name has appeared on the ballot paper.
Hassan al-Nouri and Maher Hajjar are not widely known and have been unable to campaign on an equal footing with President Bashar al-Assad
Correspondents say the other two candidates – Maher Hajjar and Hassan al-Nouri – are not widely known and have been unable to campaign on an equal footing with President Bashar al-Assad.
Previous presidential terms have been called through a referendum with just one member of the Assad family on the ballot paper.
Campaigning officially ended on Monday and workers across central Damascus removed banners, posters and pictures of the candidates.
PM Wael al-Halqi said the election was a “historic day” for Syria and that a large turnout would “prove to the entire world that the Syrian people have decided and are determined to make the electoral process a success”.
He urged Syrians to elect a president who would “achieve security and stability in the country… and step up the achievement of national reconciliation”.
The interior ministry says there are 15.8 million eligible voters, both inside and outside Syria, and about 9,600 polling stations have been set up around the country.
However, voting will only take place in government-held territory, with many parts of the country either under rebel control or in areas being fought over.
Opposition fighters have warned they will try to disrupt the vote and the Syrian National Coalition – the main Western-backed opposition group – is boycotting it.
Coalition leader Ahmad al-Jarba described the election as “theatre written with the blood of Syrians”.
He accused President Bashar al-Assad of planning to bomb and shell polling stations in order to blame the opposition.
Polling stations opened at 07:00 local time and close 12 hours later, although officials said voting could be extended for five hours if there is a big turnout.