Entries in Emergency Rule (2)


Syrian President Ready to End Emergency Law

Sasha Mordovets/Getty Images(DAMASCUS, Syria) -- In an attempt to quell unrest that threatens his rule, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has agreed to lift his nation's 48-year-old emergency rule, the biggest concession yet to pro-democracy activists.

Al-Assad hasn't actually signed the decree that would seemingly end unjustified arrests and a ban on demonstrations, but that's only considered a formality.

The decision came as violence once again rocked the northern city of Homs.  Demonstrators came under fire from government security forces Tuesday after they had taken over the main square.  Homs has been described as a ghost town since 17 protesters were gunned down last Sunday by security forces.

With the government under siege for the past month, al-Assad appears to be bowing to the demands of pro-democracy groups but lawyers and activists contend the changes aren't coming fast enough, saying that real political progress must be enacted immediately.

Syria has long maintained that tough laws are needed to stem the rise of radical Islam.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Syrian President Talks Changes But Makes None

Sasha Mordovets/Getty Images(DAMASCUS, Syria) -- Syria's president made it crystal clear in a speech Wednesday that he's not about to be swamped by the wave of calls for democratic reform rolling through the Middle East.

Bashar al-Assad only spoke vaguely of political reform to members of parliament, using his speech to mainly blast foreign conspirators he claimed were tricking people "into heading to the streets."

There was some anticipation that Assad might lift the emergency rule that has been in effect in Syria for the past 48 years, but that didn't happen.

Basically, the Syrian government used the possibility of ending emergency rule, which allows for unrestricted arrests and prohibits gatherings, to calm demonstrators who've shown up in cities by the thousands over the past two weeks to demand changes. 

In some cases, Syrian security forces have intervened, leading to violent and sometimes deadly crackdowns.  Assad said that the ensuing unrest is a "test of unity" and that Syria's enemies are exploiting people's needs in order to create divisions.

In Washington, State Department spokesman Mark Toner said that the Syrian people would be disappointed by Assad's inaction and charged that his speech had little substance to it.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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