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US Calls Syria Election Under Current Conditions 'Ridiculous'

The United States has termed "ridiculous" the Syrian government's plan to have parliamentary elections on May 7 in the present condition.

"It's slightly ridiculous, given all that's happening in the country, for them to move forward with the theater of parliamentary elections when it's very clear that the Syrian people won't have a real voice," State Department deputy spokesman Mark C. Toner said in response to a question at the daily press briefing on Tuesday.

The unrest in Syria, which began in March last year with a pro-democracy movement, has claimed over 9,000 lives, mostly civilians, and displaced tens of thousands of people.

Despite a truce that the government agreed to on April 12, armed attacks by security forces continued in various parts of the country.

The Syrian government has banned certain election observers from specific nationalities from entering Syria. When this was brought to his attention, Toner said "we obviously want to see the broadest, most representative contingent as possible, and we want to see them be granted visas and be able to get up - be able to get into Syria as soon as possible. Any restrictions by the Syrian government on their visa process would be concerning to us."

The spokesman said Washington was encouraged by the fact that there would be up to 300 members in place in the U.N. monitoring mission to Syria by the end of May. "As we've said all along, we want them to be able to enter into an environment that allows them free, safe, unfettered access to as many parts of Syria as possible," Toner said. "So again, it falls back to the Assad regime's unwillingness or inability to live up to its agreement to implement the Annan plan," he added.

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