News

    Activists: Syrians Boycott 'Sham' Parliamentary Election

    Syrian activists say people in rebellious towns and villages across the country are largely boycotting a government-run parliamentary election that major opposition groups have dismissed as a sham.

    The activists say streets were empty and shops were closed in the central town of Hama and other opposition strongholds, as residents observed a general strike to protest Monday's vote.

    The election is the latest effort by the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to show that a democratic reform process is underway in the country ruled by his family since the 1970s.

    Watch VOA's Elizabeth Arrott's story from Damascus

    But, prominent Syrian opposition groups inside and outside the country have called the vote a farce, saying it cannot have any credibility while Assad's forces continue a deadly crackdown on a 14-month opposition uprising.

    Syria's Parliamentary Elections

    • 7,195 candidates, including 710 women.
    • 7 new political parties are fielding candidates.
    • Candidates are running for 250 parliamentary seats.
    • The Ba'ath party has been in power for nearly 50 years.
    • Many opposition groups are boycotting the vote.

    Syrian state television showed voters casting ballots in the capital, Damascus, and elsewhere for more than 7,000 candidates vying for seats in the 250-member parliament. A coalition led by Assad's Baath party has monopolized the assembly for decades, but a new constitution approved in a February referendum allowed for the creation of new political parties.

    The government has said at least seven new parties are competing with the Baath-led National Progressive Front for parliamentary seats, but the exiled opposition Syrian National Council rejected those parties as "creations of the regime." In some centers of the revolt, residents displayed posters of activists killed by government forces, urging people to vote for the "martyrs" rather than the government-sanctioned candidates.  

    Some voters in Damascus said they have a duty to vote and others expressed a hope for change.  Opposition SNC spokeswoman Bassma Kodmani said that the Syrian government pressures people to vote in areas under its control by mobilizing security forces to transport them to polling stations.

    Syrian government and rebel forces have continued daily attacks on each other despite a U.N.-backed truce agreement that took effect last month. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said government troops killed three people in an ambush in the eastern province of Deir el-Zour on Monday.

    Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

    Join the conversation on our social journalism site -
    Middle East Voices
    . Follow our Middle East reports on
    Twitter and discuss them on our Facebook page.
    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Vismaya
    May 07, 2012 10:16 AM
    The Syrian rebels want Libya repeated in their country.But that bus seems to have left long agao.

    by: Sam
    May 07, 2012 9:02 AM
    A journey of a thousand miles begins with a step not with guns.
    At least this is the first, they should ask Aung sang Suu chi for some advise

    by: Cha Cha Cohen
    May 07, 2012 2:17 AM
    Either take part like a brave or get out like a coward! Please do not create drama to kill innocent citizens!! The world is burning in infernos created by the wickeds!!!

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    NATO to Target Migrant Smugglersi
    X
    Jeff Custer
    February 11, 2016 4:35 PM
    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video US Co-ed Selective Service Plan Stirs Controversy

    Young women may soon be required to register with the U.S. Selective Service System, the U.S. government agency charged with implementing a draft in a national emergency. Top Army and Marine Corps commanders told the Senate Armed Services Committee recently that women should register, and a bill has been introduced in Congress requiring eligible women to sign up for the military draft. The issue is stirring some controversy, as VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports from New York.
    Video

    Video Lessons Learned From Ebola Might Help Fight Zika

    Now that the Ebola epidemic has ended in West Africa, Zika has the world's focus. And, as Carol Pearson reports, health experts and governments are applying some of the lessons learned during the Ebola crisis in Africa to fight the Zika virus in Latin America and the Caribbean.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Illinois Voters Have Mixed Emotions on Obama’s Return to Springfield

    On the ninth anniversary of the launch of his quest for national office, President Barack Obama returned to Springfield, Illinois, to speak to the Illinois General Assembly, where he once served as state senator. His visit was met with mixed emotions by those with a front-row seat on his journey to the White House. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Heated Immigration Debate Limits Britain’s Refugee Response

    Compared to many other European states, Britain has agreed to accept a relatively small number of Syrian refugees. Just over a thousand have arrived so far -- and some are being resettled in remote corners of the country. Henry Ridgwell reports on why Britain’s response has lagged behind its neighbors.
    Video

    Video Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growth

    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Jordanian Theater Group Stages Anti-Terrorism Message

    The lure of the self-styled “Islamic State” has many parents worried about their children who may be susceptible to the organization’s online propaganda. Dozens of Muslim communities in the Middle East are fighting back -- giving young adults alternatives to violence. One group in Jordan is using dramatic expression a send a family message. Mideast Broadcasting Network correspondent Haider Al Abdali shared this report with VOA. It’s narrated by Bronwyn Benito
    Video

    Video Civil Rights Pioneer Remembers Struggle for Voting Rights

    February is Black History Month in the United States. The annual, month-long national observance pays tribute to important people and events that shaped the history of African Americans. VOA's Chris Simkins reports how one man fought against discrimination to help millions of blacks obtain the right to vote
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.