Syria's emergency law to be lifted

April 17, 2011 - 0:0

Bashar al-Assad made this announcement and pledged further reforms in a televised speech to his new cabinet after ministers were sworn in on Saturday.

“The juridical commission on the emergency law has prepared a series of proposals for new legislation, and these proposals will be submitted to the government, which will issue a new law within a week at the most,” he said.
Lifting the 48-year-old state of emergency has been a key demand during a wave of protests over the past month.
The emergency laws give the regime a free hand to arrest people without charge and extends the state's authority into virtually every aspect of Syrians' lives.
The president said unemployment remains the biggest problems in the country, and pledged that his new government will follow through on measures introduced by the former cabinet.
He said he realizes there is a gap between citizens and the state institutions and that the government has to “keep up with the aspirations of the people”.
“The world is rapidly changing around us and we have to keep up with developments,” he said. “We have to focus on the demands and the aspirations of the people or there will be a sense of anger”.
Assad also said “we're praying for the martyrs” killed in the demonstrations, both ordinary Syrians and members of the security forces.
“We are sad for all the people we have lost and all the people injured, and consider them all martyrs,” he said.
Adel Safar, the prime minister, unveiled the new cabinet on Thursday, and it is expected to carry out broad changes. But the government has little power in the one-party state dominated by Assad, his family and the security apparatus.
Earlier in the day, thousands of mourners in the city attended the funeral of a man who witnesses said had died from his wounds after being shot by gunmen loyal to President Assad during protests on April 10.
Osama al-Sheikha, 40, was among a group of men armed with sticks guarding a mosque in Baniyas, where the army has since been deployed to contain protests. Pro-government gunmen shot at them with AK-47 rifles, witnesses said.
Protesters also marched in Daraa on Saturday, chanting “the people want to overthrow the regime”, according to Reuters.
Meanwhile, Syria denied U.S. accusations that Iran was helping it quell mass protests, after the United States said it believed it had evidence Tehran was helping Syrian authorities combat the unrest.
“There is no truth to the announcement by the U.S. State Department about the presence of evidence of Iranian help to Syria in quelling the protests,” state television quoted a Foreign Ministry official as saying, Reuters reported.
“If it has the evidence, why doesn't it announce it?”
The Wall Street Journal first reported that U.S. officials believed Iran was offering the assistance to Syria.
Photo: President Assad swore in his newly appointed Prime Minister Adel Safar and the rest of the cabinet on Saturday.