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Syrian referendum a farce: Canada

27 february 2012, 16:12
Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird. ©AFP
Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird. ©AFP
Canada on Sunday slammed as a farce Syria's controversial vote on a new constitution, AFP reports.

"This is a dubious ploy by the (Bashar al-) Assad regime to delay the inevitable while continuing its slaughter of Syrian civilians. Assad's 'referendum' is a farce. It is also too little, too late," Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird said in a statement.

"Assad must go. A new day must dawn for the Syrian people," Baird added.

"Canada will continue working with our international partners to pave the way for a peaceful transition to a society that respects the fundamental rights of all its people," he said.

As polling took place Sunday, a Britain-based watchdog reported new violence across the country that killed at least 34 civilians, mostly in the flashpoint central region of Homs, and 23 regime forces.

The United States meanwhile Sunday branded referendum "laughable" and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned there was "every possibility" that Syria could descend into a civil war.

The text of the new constitutions ends the legal basis for the five-decade stranglehold on power of the ruling Baath party but leaves huge powers in the hands of President Bashar al-Assad.

The opposition says the changes are cosmetic after nearly a year of repression by Assad's security forces that human rights groups say have left more than 7,600 people dead.

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