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Mohamed Jihad Al Lahham, head of the Damascus branch of lawyers’s syndicate, has been elected as the new speaker of the Syrian parliament.

Lahham secured 225 out of 250 votes in Thursday’s opening session of Syria’s new parliament.

Lahham is a member of the Baath party which has the majority of seats in the newly-elected 250-member parliament.

Elections were held earlier this month as part of President Bashar al Assad’s response to more than a year of violence and calls for political reform.

The new body, includes 30 women and is the first in which candidates not linked to President Bashar al Assad’s Baath Party could run for office.

UN chief Ban Ki-moon slammed the Syrian government for holding a national election while violence is still raging and for failing to involve all parties.

“Only a comprehensive and inclusive political dialogue can lead to a genuine democratic future in Syria,” Mr Ban said through his spokesman Martin Nesirky.

“These elections are not taking place within that framework.

“Moreover, a democratic process cannot be successful while violence is still ongoing,” he added.

Syria’s opposition which boycotted the election also slammed the regime for holding parliamentary polls “under gunfire,” saying it did not have the legitimacy to run elections.

“Whoever drowns Syria in blood, displaces two million Syrians and shoots at the Syrian people, does not have the legitimacy to draw up a constitution or an electoral law, or to run elections,” it added. The Syrian National Council, an exiled opposition umbrella organization said in a statement on May 7

Agencies

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