Big Syria Concession: Emergency Law Being Lifted

It's been a main demand of protesters
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Apr 16, 2011 2:07 PM CDT
In this image from Syrian state television, President Bashar al-Assad announces that the nation's state of emergency will be lifted.   (AP Photo/ Syrian TV via APTN)
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(Newser) – Syria's president said today the emergency laws that have been in effect for nearly 50 years will be lifted—a key demand by a monthlong protest movement that has posed the most serious challenge yet to the regime. The big question: Whether it will appease protesters or encourage them to demand more concessions. In his second public appearance since the protests began, President Bashar al-Assad warned there will no longer be "an excuse" for organizing protests after Syria lifts the laws.

"After that, we will not tolerate any attempt at sabotage," he said in a televised address. Syria's widely despised emergency laws have been in place since the Baath party came to power in 1963, giving the regime a free hand to arrest people without charge and extending state authority into virtually every aspect of Syrians' lives. The protest movement has been steadily growing over the past four weeks and swelled yesterday to the largest gatherings to date as tens of thousands of people marched toward the capital, Damascus.

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