Syrians were voting for a new constitution. The final results aren’t known yet

Syrians on Sunday began voting in a referendum on a new constitution, a move the government hopes will end 11 months of unrest in the country, which has killed several thousand people, international media writes.

Reuters reported that on Sunday, as the vote took place, at least 31 civilians and security forces were killed in clashes across Syria. The news service quoted the opposition Syrian Network for Human Rights as saying that government security forces on Saturday killed at least 100 people in the country.

The Associated Press reported that some 14.6 million Syrians are eligible to vote on the proposal, which would enable formation of political parties other than the Ba’ath, which has dominated Syria for nearly 50 years.

And it would limit a Syrian president to two seven-year terms, reports say.

The protesters are demanding that President Bashar al-Assad step down. Assad assumed the presidency when his father died in 2000 and was reelected in 2007.

Syrian opposition activists have called for a boycott of the vote, and reports say that in central areas of protest – like the city of Homs – many potential voters won’t turn out.

But AP also reported that in the capital, Damascus, voters from religious minorities and from within the country’s business class are likely to support Assad’s new initiative.

On Saturday, reports quoted the Red Cross as saying it was unable to reach an accommodation with the government and the opposition to stop the fighting so the organization could evacuate wounded people from Homs.

Accurate assessments of casualties are difficult because the government has restricted access by foreign journalists.

Syria’s government has said that foreign terrorist groups are responsible for the uprising in the country. Assad has the backing of China, Iran and Russia, and he has not been put off by demands from the West and from other Arab governments that he stop the fighting.

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