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Syria: ex-minister appointed to form government
The wave of protests has proved to be a serious challenge to the Assad family's 40-year dynasty.
Beirut: Syrian President Bashar Assad appointed a former agriculture minister on Sunday to form a new government, part of a series of overtures towards reform as the country faces a wave of anti-government protests.
Adel Safar, the former agriculture minister, will form the new Cabinet, according to Syria's state-run television. He is generally regarded as a respectable figure in a government that many had criticized for corruption.
Assad sacked his government last week in answer to growing cries for reform in Syria, one of the most authoritarian regimes in the Middle East. On Thursday, he set up committees to look into the deaths of civilians during two weeks of unrest and replacing decades-old state of emergency laws.
Safar, 58, holds a doctorate in agricultural sciences from the French polytechnic center in France and was the dean of Damascus University's agricultural faculty from 1997-2000. He also heads the Arab Center for Dry and Arid Areas.
The extraordinary wave of protests has proved the most serious challenge yet to the Assad family's 40-year dynasty. The protests were touched off by the arrest of several teenagers who scrawled anti-government graffiti on walls in the southern city of Daraa, a drought-parched and impoverished city in the south.
Assad has blamed a "foreign conspiracy" for the unrest and offered gestures of reform that protesters say do not go far enough to satisfy their demands for real change.
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