The Syrian government approved a final draft bill that regulates parliamentary and local council elections. The law provides for a high committee consisting of five independent judges to ensure the integrity of the elections, the official Syrian Arab News Agency reports.
Information Minister Adnan Mahmoud said the draft law is a "quantum leap" toward a democratic Syria. Parties competing in future elections can present candidates on collective lists or individually at the ballot box, he added.
The measure follows similar action regarding the development of opposition parties in the country. Damascus has unveiled a series of political reforms it says are meant to allay concerns of anti-government protesters upset with the Baath Party leadership of Syrian President Bashar Assad.
Independent human rights groups put the death toll in Syria at around 1,500.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said at least eight people were killed Wednesday by government forces, the BBC reported. Foreign journalists are barred from covering events in Syria, however, making independent verification difficult.