Opponents boycott balloting, scattered reports of violence - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Opponents boycott balloting, scattered reports of violence

DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) -- Opponents of Syrian President Bashar Assad are boycotting today's parliamentary elections. They say the balloting is aimed only at strengthening Assad's grip on power.

There have been scattered reports of violence today, including witness accounts that say security forces launched deadly attacks on villages where opposition supporters were refusing to vote.

In Washington, a State Department spokesman said it "borders on ludicrous" for Syria's government to proceed with balloting in the current atmosphere there. The spokesman says there can't be "credible elections in a climate where basic human rights are being denied" and where the government is carrying out "daily assaults on its own citizens."

Still, the elections are the first under a constitution adopted three months ago that allows political parties to compete with Assad's ruling Baath party.

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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