June 3 - Syrians take to the polls and are expected to deliver an overwhelming victory to President Bashar al-Assad with ballot box offering little prospect for peace. Deborah Lutterbeck reports.
Election day in Syria. Amateur video, which can not be independently verified by Reuters, shows war raging in the country as voters are expected to hand Syrian President Bashar al-Assad an overwhelming victory. The 48-year-old President along with his wife head into the polls. Assad has ruled Syria since succeeding his father 14 years ago. In the past three years he has overseen a country engulfed in civil war which has killed more than 160,000 people. His foes on the ground have called the vote "illegitimate." The French Foreign Minister called in a " tragic farce." State media is reporting that voting was extended five hours to accommodate demand. Assad is running against two relatively unknown challengers who were approved by a parliament packed with his supporters. It is the first time in half a century that Syrians have been offered a choice of candidates. But Assad is the overwhelming favorite and is widely expected to win another seven year term in a country locked in a stalemate of war with the ballot box offering little prospect for peace.