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.
-Some Gulf countries suspect that the Houthi insurgency is supported by Shiite Iran
The recent legislation is a form of collective punishment towards Jerusalem and its youth, rights groups say.
Saleh is an ally of Houthis, who overran capital Sanaa and other provinces in late 2014
Kurdish and Iranian officials in talks to transfer as much as 250,000 barrels per day of Kurdish oil to Iran.
Police arrest 4 Palestinians after clash over non-Muslim visits to Al-Aqsa during Ramadan
Russian and Assad regime air strikes have killed dozens of people in eastern Syria
The leader of Lebanon’s resistance movement Hezbollah says the group will continue fighting against terrorists in Syria's northern province of Aleppo and that the party will send more troops to Syria's Aleppo
Both Iran and Russia have expressed their elation over the shock exit of the UK with Moscow mayor declaring, "‘There won’t be anyone to so zealously defend sanctions against us"
Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, was implicated in mass protests against the re-election of president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2009
Clashes in several areas across Yemen on Friday killed 22 Shiite rebels and 11 members of pro-government forces, military officials said, after ...
Syrian opposition group claims 12 civilians killed when Russian jets dropped incendiary bombs in Aleppo
The ship, named Gamal Abdel Nasser, left the shipyard of Saint-Nazaire on France's Atlantic coast on June 12.
U.N. mediator Staffan de Mistura hopes peace talks can resume in July, but has warned they cannot proceed “while hostilities are escalating and civilians are starving”.
Both men were simultaneously visiting the European Union’s main governmental headquarters to talk with EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini.
Turkey and U.S.-led coalition strike 34 ISIL targets in northern Syria, military says
Group will secure city, maintain safety of civilians, Central Command says