World Bulletin / News Desk
Syria said on Tuesday over half of eligible voters turned out for a parliamentary election central to reforms that it says show President Bashar al-Assad's aim to peacefully resolve an uprising against him, but which opponents dismissed as a farce.
The head of the body that oversaw last week's vote told reporters that 51.26 percent of the electorate, or just over 5 million, took part in an election rejected in advance by opposition leaders as a ruse to buy time to crush dissent.
"The election gave the people the broadest possible representation," Khalaf al-Azzawi told reporters at a televised news conference in Damascus.
"The election took place with full transparency, democracy, integrity, supervised and monitored by independent judicial councils which were not pressured by any side," he said.
The vote was overseen by elements of Syria's judiciary, which has seldom challenged the ruler's authority.
Azzawi declined to give a breakdown for participation in regions hard hit in the revolt - critics said no credible voting was feasible in areas under continued siege and shelling from Assad's forces - and it was not possible to verify the figures.
The election followed the adoption of a constitution that allowed new political parties - although no vote shares for individual parties were given and there are still effectively no parties functioning independently of Assad's Baath movement, which has ruled Syria for 49 years.
Turnout little changed from 2007
And the figures implied a turnout little different from that in parliamentary elections in 2007, when there was not even a nominal challenge to Baath rule and candidates were drawn almost entirely from the vetted ranks of its loyalists.
Azzawi read out a list of candidates who won seats in the 250-seat assembly, including independent figure Qadri Jameel, who had said the vote could be a "starting point for a political process" in Syria, despite a boycott by most opposition figures.
Voting in the capital Damascus last week appeared patchy. At one polling station, where authorities said 137 people voted in the first three hours, foreign journalists saw only three people cast their ballots in a 40-minute period.
At the last parliamentary election in 2007, officials announced a 56 percent turnout.
The new parliament is to convene within the next two weeks under a revised constitution that does not outline any substantially different role for the assembly.
The Israeli authorities announced a decision early last month to confiscate 4,000 dunams of Palestinian land in the occupied West Bank.
Transport minister Damir Hadzic described the move as a 'historic event'.
Kenyan anti-terrorism police arrested the two on suspicion of plotting an attack in Kenya as they prepared to board a flight at Nairobi aiport on Sept. 18 bound for Belgium.
Egypt-Turkey relations have nosedived since Egypt's military ousted elected president Mohamed Morsi in July of last year.
New Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani re-opened an inquiry into the theft of almost $1 billion from Kabul Bank with a decree.
Nine other people were wounded, seven of whom were taken to hospital for treatment.
Putin said Russia security services had detected a constant growth in cyber attacks, particularly in the last six months, the period in which the crisis in Ukraine has worsened.
Turkish Cypriot students attending an English school in the Greek Cypriot-controlled south Cyprus are told they cannot have time off for Eid as it is a 'Chrstian school'.
Moazzem Begg, 46, who became a high-profile human rights campaigner after being released without charge from the U.S. military prison in Cuba in 2005, had been held for seven months in custody.
Kurdish sources on the battlefront reported seeing dead ISIL fighters at the strike sites southeast of Kobani.
Former Norwegian prime minister Jens Stoltenberg will become the 13th secretary general of NATO.
China’s Consulate-General in Osaka confirmed the sinking of the vessel about 390 kilometers off Japan's Shimane Prefecture.
Former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic rejected the charges in closing remarks at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.
Poland's new Prime Minister Ewa Kopacz said that as well as Poland meeting the technical criteria for euro entry, the euro zone needed to show it was stable.
"The meeting would bring together members from the PLO's executive committee, the central committee of Fatah and secretaries of Palestinian factions," senior PLO member Wassel Abu Youssef said.
In a statement, the Benghazi Revolutionaries Shura Council said that dialogue came upon a "suspicion invitation" and argued that it was not based on "solid foundations."