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Syrians Go To Polls To Elect Parliament

The elections are expected to consolidate President al-Assad's power (file photo) (AFP) April 22, 2007 -- Twelve million Syrians are set to vote today in the first of two days of parliamentary elections that banned opposition parties say they will boycott.

The elections, the second since President Bashar al-Assad came to power in July 2000, are seen as helping al-Assad consolidate power. His Ba'ath Party is guaranteed 131 seats, or 52 percent.

Among other demands, the opposition wants a law authorizing parties other than the Ba'ath Party and its allies, and abrogation of the state of emergency which has been in force since 1963.