Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Syrian cabinet passes law lifting state of emergency.

Syria's government passed a draft law on Tuesday to lift 48 years of emergency rule, a concession to unprecedented demands for greater freedom in the country. However, the law only takes affect after presidnet Assad has put his signature to it. State news agency SANA said the cabinet ratified draft legislation, which must still be signed by President Bashar al-Assad.
Protests continued after the announcement, with demonstrators taking to the streets in the city of Banias and opposition leaders said they would not stop until their other demands, including the release of political prisoners, freedom of speech, and a multi-party system, were also met.
The cabinet, which has little power, also passed a law to abolish a special security court which human rights lawyers says violates the rule of law and the right to fair trial. It also passed legislation to "regulate the right of peaceful protest." Permission from the Interior Ministry will be needed to demonstrate in Syria, the news agency said.
One activist dismissed the cabinet decision, saying Assad himself could have lifted emergency law immediately. "The government doesn't need to issue anything ... It's in the hands of the president to lift it," Ammar Qurabi said. "This (announcement) is all just talk. The protests won't stop until all the demands are met or the regime is gone," leading opposition figure Haitham Maleh, an 80-year-old former judge, told Reuters.


YEMEN - Security forces in Yemen have killed at least three people and wounded hundreds more after opening fire on demonstrations in the capital Sanaa and the town of Taiz, ahead of a UN meeting to discuss the cirsis in the country.
In Sanaa, two people were reportedly killed and nearly 100 wounded on Tuesday when riot police stopped protesters marching towards the capital's main Zubeiri street.

In Taiz, south of the capital, at least one person was shot dead and another wounded after police opened fire when protesters burned tyres in the street.
The violence on Tuesday comes ahead of a UN Security Council meeting where members will discusses the political crisis in Yemen for the first time. A UN-diplomat called it 'a sign of the growing attention that Yemen is attracting after Egypt, Tunisia and Libya'.
A Yemeni government delegation arrived in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday for talks with the six-nation Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) on its proposal for Saleh to transfer power to his deputy.Opposition representatives held similar talks on Sunday in Saudi Arabia.
Meanwhile, Yemeni lawmakers who split from the ruling General People's Congress party have established a new political group calling for Saleh's resignation, a statement from the bloc said. The new group, named "Justice and Building Bloc", comprises former ministers and members of the parliament who had deserted the GPC in protest over the heavy-handed response by authorities to anti-Saleh demonstrations.

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