Erdoğan says Syrian polls not democratic

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (Photo: AA)

May 08, 2012, Tuesday/ 17:52:00

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said he does not consider Syria's parliamentary elections, which took place amidst a 14-month violent crackdown and which the Syrian opposition boycotted and the international community dismissed as a ruse, a sign that the country is moving toward democracy.

Monday's election for the 250-member parliament is unlikely to change the trajectory of the revolt in Syria, which has become a grim cycle of crackdowns and reprisals. Parliament is widely considered a rubber stamp in a country where President Bashar al-Assad holds the real power.

Erdoğan told reporters on Tuesday that there were no observers monitoring the elections, which was believed to be a sham vote. He said even parties established by the Syrian regime didn't attend the elections.

Erdoğan also criticized the way UN observers are monitoring the fragile cease-fire in the country, saying nearly 50 UN observers, who are trying to calm the situation on the ground, are not enough for even a single district. The UN hopes to deploy a larger force of up to 300 observers.

World powers have been unable to stop the bloodshed, and a truce that was scheduled to begin on April 12 has never really taken hold. The UN says more than 9,000 people have been killed in 14 months of turmoil.

The Turkish prime minister added that he has lost hope for UN envoy Kofi Annan's six-point plan, and he called for increasing the number of observers to up to 3,000.

The elections in Syria were the first under a new constitution, adopted three months ago, that allows political parties to compete with embattled Syrian President Assad's ruling Baath Party. The new constitution also limits the president to two seven-year terms.

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