Syria regime hails poll results amid fresh violence | News | DW | 27.02.2012
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Syria regime hails poll results amid fresh violence

Damascus has welcomed the results of a constitutional referendum, with results showing most voters were in favor of multi-party representation. The poll was boycotted by the opposition as violence raged on.

The Syrian government on Monday lauded the results of a referendum in which voters decided in favor of a new constitution.

"The referendum was marked by high turnout despite attempts to terrorize citizens," Interior Minister Mohammed al-Shaar was quoted as saying. "This democratic process took place in an atmosphere of freedom, transparency and impartiality."

Al-Shaar said that 89.4 percent had voted for the new constitution, supporters of which say it will end the monopoly of President Bashar al-Assad's Baath Party. The minister said 57.4 percent of the country's 14.6 million eligible voters had cast ballots.

Western countries dubbed the referendum a farce, saying that it was cynical to hold a vote in the midst of some of the worst turmoil the country has seen in decades.

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US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland posed the question of how "any kind of democratic process" could take place amid such violence. "We dismiss it as absolutely cynical," Nuland said. The opposition called upon voters to boycott the referendum, with protests against it in some parts of the country.

Further deaths in Homs

The violence continued on Monday with the Syrian army shelling the provinces of Idlib and Homs, including the embattled Homs neighborhood of Baba Amr.

Protest gegen neue Verfassung in Idlib, Syrien

There were protests against the poll in parts of the country

The Local Coordination Committees, a network of activists, said 135 people had been killed around the country, including 64 who were trying to flee from fighting in the city of Homs. The group did not specify whether all of those people were killed on Monday or over the past few days.

Activists from the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said they received information that 68 people had been killed by pro-regime gunmen in Homs province. The people were thought to have fled from Homs city. It was not clear whether the two reports were related.

The Syrian Red Crescent was able to enter Baba Amr on Monday and rescue three people, the International Red Cross said.

Senior diplomats at the UN Human Rights Council on Monday called for more pressure on the Syrian government to allow aid to civilians caught up in the violence. There were also warnings that members of the regime could face criminal charges at the International Criminal Court for "atrocities."

ncy, rc/msh (AP, Reuters, AFP, dpa)

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