DAMASCUS, June 7 (Xinhua) -- Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Tuesday addressed the newly-elected parliament, saying the new parliament was elected after unprecedented participation of the Syrian people.
"The elections were not normal, but came amid political gravitation and tough internal circumstances," he said.
The president said "the unprecedented number of the voters was clear message to the world that the more pressure we have, the more we cling fast to our sovereignty."
He urged the lawmakers of the new parliament to work for serving the people, noting that the new parliament was elected in exceptional times.
He noted that by prioritizing the public interest, confronting the challenges that have resulted from the crisis would be possible.
Syria's parliamentary elections were held last April in government-controlled areas, with some 3,500 candidates vying for the 250 parliamentary seats amid a boycott by opposition groups.
A day earlier, Hadiyeh al-Abbas, a member of the ruling al-Baath party, was elected as the speaker of the Syrian parliament, the first woman to claim the position in Syria's history.
According to state news agency SANA, al-Abbas was elected during the first session of the newly elected parliament.
SANA said al-Abbas was the first woman to be the speaker of the parliament since the Syrian parliament was formed in 1919.