Syria

Protests continue despite pledge to lift emergency rule

Reuters

Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad has promised to lift the country’s emergency rule within a week, in response to weeks of protests calling for reform. However, the move failed to stop protesters calling fresh demonstrations on Sunday, the Syrian Independence Day.

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Assad announced the repeal of the emergency laws in a televised address on Saturday. The law, which gives the authorities the power to arrest people without charge, restricts public gatherings and censors the media, has been in place for 48 years.

Proposals for new legislation will be submitted to the government, which will make them into law within a week, Assad said.

He also promised that his new cabinet would tackle Syria’s social problems, including unemployment and corruption. The president expressed his regret for the “martyrs” killed and injured in recent demonstrations, and called for police to receive better training to handle protests.

But just hours after the president’s speech, calls for further protests had been launched on social networking sites.

According to activists, around 2,000 people staged a sit-in in Douma, a suburb of Damascus, to demand the release of people arrested on Friday during nationwide protests.

There were also reports of demonstrations in the towns of Aleppo, Daraa and Suweida.

Protesters in Suweida complained of being beaten by security forces trying to disperse them. At least five people were injured in the clashes, activists told AFP news wire service.

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