Syrians voted in the country's first "multiparty" parliamentary election in five decades on Monday, amid continuing violence and a boycott called by the opposition, according to the AFP.
Voters cast their ballots in the capital and other regions for the 7,000 candidates campaigning, but in opposition strongholds residents boycotted the election calling it a sham.
Reuters noted that the Baath party-controlled parliament currently does not have a single opposition member in its 250 seats, and President Bashar al-Assad relies on it to enforce his will.
Towns that supported the opposition were deserted on election day, with one man in Hama saying, "Today is the Syrian parliamentary poll and we say to you Bashar al-Assad that there are no people in Qalaat al-Madeeq voting. You've displaced people and killed women and children. We are on strike," according to Reuters.
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According to CNN, the state-run Syrian Arab News Agency said judicial supervision of the vote would ensure "fairness, freedom and democracy."
Interior Minister Mohammad Ibrahim al-Shaar said that "voting is proceeding normally, with voting centers witnessing considerable turnout, adding that there are no problems so far with the exception of some minor things that usually occur in elections," according to the government news agency, reported CNN.
The New York Times said the election was not likely to change anything in the standoff between the Syrian government and the popular uprising which began 14 months ago and has so far cost 10,000 civilian lives. Violence has continued in the country, despite the government agreeing to a six-point United Nations-backed peace plan that stated that a cease-fire was to come into effect on April 12.
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Mohamed Sarmini, a member of the largest opposition group, the Syrian National Council, said, "You cannot really call it an election." He continued, "The regime is killing people at the same time it is announcing elections and reforms," according to The Times.
The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Monday that residents in Idlib reported gunfire and explosions while clashes between rebels and soldiers took place in Hama, according to Reuters. Three dissidents were killed in the eastern province of Deir al-Zor.
The 50 UN observers who have been deployed to monitor the truce have reported violations on both sides, and they will soon increase to 300 in the coming weeks, said AFP.
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CNN filed this report of children and victims of violence in Homs seeking refuge: