Syrian authorities declared the referendum on the new draft constitution on Sunday valid despite an opposition boycott.
“The referendum was valid. The ballot count will take place later, but we can say that the people of Syria have participated in the voting most actively,” a spokesman for the Syrian Information Ministry told RIA Novosti on Sunday evening.
Turnout stood at 60 percent, according to preliminary data, a representative of the Interior Ministry said. He added that first results of the poll will be announced at 10 a.m. local time on Monday.
He added that no incidents took place at polling stations in the capital, Damascus, an observation confirmed by a RIA Novosti reporter on the ground.
The new constitution eliminates the privileged role of the ruling party Baath, in power since the 1960s, paving the way for competitive parliamentary elections.
The regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said the draft will “usher a new era of democratic reforms.” Assad introduced the draft in an attempt to quell a bloody anti-government uprising that resulted in military standoffs in several cities and claimed at least 7,500 lives since last March, according to UN data.
Syrian opposition leaders, who insist on Assad’s removal, have called for a boycott of the elections, for which some 15 million people are eligible. The U.S. administration, which is also pushing for Assad’s departure, supported the boycott calls.
U.S. Ambassador in Russia, Michael McFaul, also urged Russia on Sunday to convince Assad to stop the attack by government forces on the city of Homs, which media said claimed 26 lives on Sunday. Moscow, which is Assad’s main international backer, having blocked two resolutions on Syria in the UN Security Council, did not comment.