Syrian woman becomes first female parliament speaker

June 6, 2016 GMT

DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) — A Syrian woman who is a member of President Bashar Assad’s Baath party has been chosen as the new parliament speaker, becoming the first woman to ever hold the post.

Hadiyeh al-Abbas, 58, won uncontested Monday during the first session of the People’s Assembly, elected in April.

Al-Abbas holds a PhD in agricultural engineering and was a professor at al-Furat University in the eastern city of Deir el-Zour, which is currently contested by government forces and the Islamic State group.

Najdat Anzour, one of Syria’s best-known producers and most acclaimed directors, was chosen as deputy parliament speaker. He is a staunch Assad supporter.

Syria has elected two parliaments since the start of the 2011 uprising, which plunged the country into a civil war that has killed more than 250,000 people.