Syria's Assad asks PM Arnous to form new cabinet
Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad has tasked regime Prime Minister Hussein Arnous with forming a new government following a 'sham' election in May that extended Assad's two-decade-long presidency.
Assad originally named Arnous as prime minister last August to replace Imad Khamis, who was fired as Syria grappled with a major economic crisis and a plunging currency with much of the country shattered by a 10-year conflict.
Assad took the oath last month for a fourth term in office after a presidential election last May that was widely dismissed as a farce and the United Nations said defied a peace plan calling for voting under international supervision to help enable a political settlement of Syria's conflict.
Over the past year the regime has taken a series of unpopular measures ranging from steep fuel price hikes to tougher bread rationing to curb subsidies that have drained finances struggling under Western sanctions.
The regime blame sanctions for widespread hardship among the people, but other observers point to widespread corruption among key regime figures.
The currency collapse has led to soaring prices and people struggling to afford food and basic supplies. An estimated 80% of the Syrian people live in poverty.
More than 500,000 people have been killed in the Syrian conflict, which broke out in 2011 following the brutal suppression of pro-democracy protests by the Assad regime.