- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 9, 2003

DAMASCUS, Syria, March 9 (UPI) — Mohammed Naji al-Outari on Sunday was elected Syria's new House Speaker, according to the official Syrian News Agency.

The agency said Al-Outari was chosen during the first session of the country's newly elected 250-member Parliament. He received 241 votes out of a total of 247 parliamentarians attending the session.

Al-Outari replaced Abdel Kader Qaddoura, who headed the parliament for 12 years.

The new Speaker promised in a speech after his election to "spare no efforts for preserving the democratic practices" in the country.

He said he supported Syrian President Bashar Assad's policies for liberating Arab lands occupied by in Israelis. He also called for backing the government's economic and social development plans.

Last week, candidates of the ruling Baath Party and its seven allied groups won 167 seats in the Parliament.

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