Nearly 7,200 candidates for Syrian parliamentary vote

In strife-torn Syria, 7,195 candidates have registered to compete for 250 seats in parliamentary elections set for May 7, according to state news agency SANA.

The poll, in which 710 women are standing, will run amid an uprising against President Bashar Assad's regime, which broke out in March last year.

According to SANA, 14 million Syrians are eligible to vote in the poll, which anti-regime activists have described as a farce.

Candidates have started campaigning on the main squares and streets of Damascus.

"A job for each young man and woman" and "vote for your future" are just two of the slogans candidates are using to attract voters.

The poll, initially scheduled for September, was postponed after Assad announced the launching of a reform process.

Last month, parliament urged Assad to again put off the election to allow more time to implement the reforms, SANA reported.

This is set to be the third parliamentary contest since Assad came to power in 2000, and the authorities have promised a "free and transparent" election.

In April 2007, the National Progressive Front (FNP) - a coalition of parties headed by Assad's Baath party - took the majority of seats.

In February this year, the authorities held a referendum on constitutional reform, which 89.4 per cent of voters approved. It abolished the supremacy of the ruling Baath party, after half a century in power.

-AFP/NOW Lebanon

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