REUTERS - Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, battling a popular uprising, named a former agriculture minister and staunch loyalist as prime minister on Wednesday to form a new government after last month’s parliamentary election.
State television said Riyad Hijab replaces Adel Safar, who was appointed in April last year shortly after the revolt began in the south and later spread across the country, presenting Assad with the sternest challenge to his 12-year rule.
In a speech to parliament on Sunday, Assad said the new government would “take into account the new political forces” after the May 7 election, held under a revised constitution which allowed for new political parties to be established.
Most Syrian opposition figures boycotted the parliamentary election and a prominent dissident said that by appointing Hijab, a committed member of the ruling Baath Party, the president was snubbing demands for change.
“We expected Assad to play a game and appoint a nominal independent but he chose a hardcore Baathist,” opposition campaigner Najati Tayyara said. “In any case the cabinet is just for show in Syria and even more so now, with the security apparatus totally taking over”.