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Syria braces to announce election results as UN warns of civil war

(Xinhua)

09:07, May 09, 2012

DAMASCUS, May 8 (Xinhua) -- As Syria is bracing to announce the results of its first parliamentary elections under the new constitution, the United Nations-Arab League joint envoy Kofi Annan expressed Tuesday "profound concern" that with the ongoing violence Syria might descend into a full civil war.

Syria's mainstream media said the judicial committees entrusted with supervising the electoral process were counting ballots Tuesday, a day after Syrians cast their ballots and choose among the more than 7,000 candidates vying for the 250-seat parliament.

Monday's elections were marked with boycott of some opposition parties inside Syria, which dismissed the polls as "formal and designed by security forces to fit the current regime."

The elections were also criticized by the United States, which regarded the move as "bordering on ludicrous."

However, the Syrian government deems the elections as a large step of reform promised by embattled Syrian President Bashar al- Assad.

Meanwhile, UN-AL joint envoy Annan urged Tuesday the Syrian government and the opposition to halt violence "otherwise Syria would descend into a full civil war," saying that "implications of that are quite frightening."

"The violence must stop and a credible process of political dialogue must begin," he said, warning that a civil war "will not only affect Syria, it will have an impact on the whole region."

Annan made it clear that there have been numerous violations to his six-point peace plan. "The level of violence and abuses are unacceptable," he told reporters after briefing the UN Security Council by video conference in Geneva.

He said the total 300 observers will be on the ground in Syria by the end of May.

On April 21, the UN Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution to approve the deployment to Syria of up to 300 unarmed UN military observers in order to monitor a fragile ceasefire between the Syrian government forces and armed opposition fighters.

Under the resolution, the UN Supervision Mission in Syria has an initial period of 90 days to carry out its mandate.

"I believe their presence will make quite a difference... I think when they are fully deployed and working as a team, establishing relations with the people, we will see much greater impact on the work they are to do," Annan said.

The UN-brokered ceasefire has done little to stem the violence in Syria, as murders, bombings, kidnapping and acts of arson and sabotage are reported on a daily basis.

The International Committee of the Red Cross on Tuesday described the fighting in Syria as an "armed conflict."

Meanwhile, Syria's permanent representative to the United Nations, Bashar al-Jafari, said Tuesday that the work of the observer mission is on the right path, yet the type of crimes committed by the armed terrorist groups became worse, according to state-run SANA news agency.

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