Middle East

95% of Syrian expats vote in election


Ninety-five per cent of Syrians living overseas have voted in the presidential election at 43 embassies worldwide.

Syria's electoral commission says 95 per cent of registered expatriate voters have taken part in a presidential election expected to return incumbent Bashar al-Assad to power.

While Syrians living in areas controlled by government forces will vote on June 3, Syrians living abroad cast their ballots on Wednesday.

"The president of the foreign ministry's central electoral committee said that voting took place in 43 embassies of the Syrian Arab Republic, and the participation rate by registered voters had exceeded 95 per cent," state news agency SANA said.

The opposition and its backers have slammed the vote as a "farce" and as a "parody of democracy".

Inside Syria, voting will only take place in regime-held areas.

Swathes of the country have fallen out of government control since the outbreak of an uprising against Assad in March 2011.

Those who fled the country's violence through unofficial border crossings were not allowed to participate.

Refugees in Lebanon and Turkey who oppose the Assad regime have protested against the vote, which dissidents see as little more than a show of force by Damascus.

Damascus has said its nationals in countries that back the opposition, including the United Arab Emirates and France, were preventing people from voting.

Syria's deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Muqdad on Saturday accused those countries of "violating all conventions and human rights".

On the eve of the vote, pro-regime newspaper Al-Watan had said more than 200,000 people had registered at 39 Syrian embassies abroad.

There was no official confirmation of the figure by Saturday, but SANA said the results of the expatriate voting would be announced along with the final result of the June 3 election.

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