Sunday, 26 February 2012

Referendum on Syria’s New Draft Constitution Kicks off

Local Editor
Syria's Referendum
Syrians were called to the polls on Sunday to vote on a new constitution, challenging those who call for a boycott.

The new text ends the legal basis for the five-decade period in power of the ruling Baath party.

As polls opened at 07:00 am local time (05:00 GMT),
More than 14 million people over the age of 18 were eligible to vote in Sunday's referendum at 14,185 polling stations across the country.

Syrian state television aired live footage from a number of polling stations around the country and reported that "large number of voters" had turned out.

"I am voting because this is the outcome of reforms introduced by the president, and if they succeed, we will have a democracy, not like in Libya and elsewhere… I am voting in spite of the armed gangs," Balsam Kahila, 32, said after voting.

The citizen can vote with his/ her identity card or what can substitute it such as the election card, valid passport, driving license, syndicate card or the university card.

Syria's ReferendumInstructions were distributed in each center in all provinces so the citizens get acquainted with the steps they should know to vote.

The referendum operation will continue until 07:00 p.m. local time and, in case the head of any center found high turnout, he/she has the authority to extend the time of voting until 10:00 p.m. only, then the center to be closed.
President Assad unveiled the proposed new national charter earlier this month, in the latest step in what he says is a cautious process of reform.

Damascus's allies, Beijing and Moscow, which have blocked action against the regime at the UN Security Council, have expressed support for the process.
"We hope that the referendum on a new constitution as well as the forthcoming parliamentary elections pass off calmly," Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Zhai Jun said after talks in Damascus earlier this month.

Drawn up by a committee of 29 law makers, the new charter states that political system in the country would be based on "pluralism," although it would ban the formation of parties on religious lines.
While the new text drops all references to Syria being a socialist state, Article 60 maintains that half the deputies must be "workers and farmers."

Article 88 states that the president can be elected for two seven-year terms.

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