Opposition figures and dissidents at home boycotted the vote, saying that the first elections to be held after more than a year of protests, which have been brutally repressed by the regime at the expense of 10,000 civilian lives, are a "sham". State television and the official news agency Sana, however, reported "significant turn-out", while government media broadcast pictures throughout the day of "polling stations flooded by voters" in what they called "the first elections of the multi-party era".
The White House caustically called them "elections bordering on the ludicrous", while the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon, spoke of an "intolerable situation" in Syria.
The day of voting passed off without incident in Damascus, while activists reported that at least 24 people, most of them civilians, were killed in a number of focal points of the uprising. The Violation Documentation Centre for Syria (vdc-sy.org), which has provided updates daily figures on the government repression and violence in the country for over a year, reported that at least 24 people had been killed, three of them deserters, by loyalists across several regions. Also included in the list are six victims from two families who died in the bombing by government artillery forces of the Qusur area of the city of Homs. The bodies of the 6 were found only yesterday.
Eyewitnesses in Damascus told ANSA that polling stations remained largely empty in the areas of the city with majority Sunni populations. Other accredited foreign journalists in Syria said that only 3 people voted in around 40 minutes in a polling station in the modern centre of the city, while local authorities said that 137 votes had been cast. Speaking to state television, the president of the electoral commission, Khalaf Azzawi, said that at the halfway stage in the election, which began at 07:00 yesterday morning and ended at 22:00 last night (21:00 CET), voting had been carried out as usual in an atmosphere of calm.
Almost 15 million Syrians were formally asked to re-elect the People's Assembly, the country's Parliament, which is made up of 250 seats. The majority (127 seats) is still formally assigned to regime officials, chosen from "workers" and "farmers", two traditional categories of Ba'ath, the Socialist Arab party that until February, according to the constitution, had "the role of guide in the nation and in society". The new constitution approved in February abolished the monopoly of the Ba'ath party, which has more than 3 million active members throughout Syria. In line with the new party law, 9 "opposition" parties are fighting it out for the remaining 123 seats in the Assembly, which are reserved for "independent" candidates.
The call to boycott the vote came not only from opponents based abroad, historic dissidents and activists who for months have been demanding the fall of the regime, but also from more moderate figures, who as a result are tolerated by the Damascus authorities.(ANSAmed).