Voter turnout reported high in Syrian presidential elections

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According to one newspaper, the voter turnout for Tuesday’s elections was 70 percent.

Syria’s presidential elections were held in several governorates where the regime is in control. Other governorates that are under the rebels’ control did not participate because the rebels did not allow the elections to take place.

The polls closed Tuesday at midnight after extending the voting hours an additional five hours due to what Syria’s Supreme Judicial Elections Commission described as a high turnout.

The Syrian paper Al-Watan reported that a judicial source announced that the results may be announced Thursday evening by the speaker of parliament,

It is widely expected that President Bashar Al-Assad will be voted in for a third seven-year term, running as he is against two relatively unknown candidates, and because many Syrians are seeking stability in their war-torn country and believe Al-Assad can deliver.

According to Syrian activists, people waiting in line to vote heard sounds of explosions and shells. Rebels shelled areas in the capital Damascus, and government warplanes responded by bombing rebel strongholds.

Despite criticism from the international community Al-Assad held the elections. Some analysts say that Syrian authorities believe that by calling for the elections, they are taking a step towards solving the crisis in their country.

Spokeswoman for the State Department Marie Harf conveyed America’s views on the elections. “Today’s presidential election in Syria is a disgrace,” adding, “Al-Assad has no more credibility today than he did yesterday.”

It remains unclear where the Syrian crisis is heading. The West and Gulf countries are battling alongside the rebels to topple Al-Assad while on the other hand Russia, China, and Iran stand firmly behind him. Some say that the only solution to the crisis is for Al-Assad to leave, while others say the only way is for him to stay and finish his war against the extremist militants who are taking over Syria.

Until now, the three-year-old civil war has left more than 160,000 people dead. Millions of Syrians have been forced to flee to neighbouring countries.