Syrian President Bashar Assad has put together a new Cabinet, headed by Prime Minister Riyadh Hijab.

The old defence, interior and foreign ministers retained their jobs. Among other things, this gives the lie to the rumours that Defence Minister Dawoud Radjiha has been killed by insurgents.

Importantly, there are two figures from the opposition camp in the new Syrian Cabinet. Leader of the National Front for Change Qadri Jamil has been appointed Deputy Prime Minister in charge of the economy, and leader of Social National party Ali Haydar has assumed the newly-created post of National Reconciliation Minister.

We have an opinion from Dr Irina Zviagelskaya of the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences:

"Assad has obviously attempted to defuse the political tensions in Syria by demonstrating readiness to embrace change and include leaders of the mainstream opposition in his administration. The radical opposition, on its part, is unlikely to buy his gesture. It believes that Assad must go."

Russia, however, continues to insist that it would be unacceptable to remove a President who has the support of more than 50% of his people. Foreign Minister Lavrov said a few days ago that the international community and the Syrian opposition must respect the will of the Syrian people.

The make-up of the new Syrian government reflects the outcome of Syria’s first multiparty elections, which were held on May 7th . The turnout was around 60%. The radical opposition ignored the poll.

The new legislature will sit for 4 years. Its members include 30 women and 172 workers and farmers.

Source: The Voice of Russia