Beirut: Amidst a wave of anti-government protests in the country demanding reforms, Syrian President Bashar Assad appointed a former Agriculture Minister on Sunday to form a new government.
 
According to Syria's state-run television, Adel Safar, the former Agriculture Minister will form the new Cabinet. He is generally regarded as a respectable figure in a government that many had criticised 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 Centre 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.

(Agencies)