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Assad names new PM to form Syrian government after parliamentary vote

Published:

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad named former agriculture minister Riyad Hijab as prime minister on Wednesday to form a new government after last month’s parliamentary election, state television said.

Hijab replaces Adel Safar, who was appointed in April last year shortly after a popular uprising erupted in the south and later spread across the country, presenting Assad with the sternest challenge to his 12-year rule.

“President Assad issued a decree asking Riad Hijab to form a new government,” the television said.

Syrian foreign ministry spokesman Jihad Makdissi confirmed the report on Twitter, saying, “Dr. Riad Hijab is the new prime minister of Syria and will form the new government.”

Assad had touted the May 7 elections as an example of the reforms he’s bringing to the country.

But the opposition boycotted the vote and said it was orchestrated by the regime to strengthen Assad’s grip on power. Parliament is considered little more than a rubber stamp in Syria, where the president and a tight coterie of advisers hold the real power.