Even as the reports of Syrian forces pounding protesters in coastal Latakia poured in, hopes have emerged that President Bashar al-Assad may mull lifting the half century-old emergency law.
The state of emergency, which has been in force since Assad's party took power in March 1963, was reportedly discussed at a Sunday night session. This development has given raise to hopes that the 50-year-old emergency law, which has been used to detain dissidents without trial, may be eliminated by the President who has been facing protests fuelled by demands for political reforms including the elimination of the emergency.
However, Parliament member Mohammed Habash who revealed this to the Associated Press, did not give further details on it. The next scheduled cabinet meeting is Tuesday, the news agency noted.
Furthermore, a presidential adviser said Sunday that Assad, who has remained out of the spotlight after the March 18 clashes in Dera, would address the nation on state television within 24 to 48 hours, according to LA Times.
This indication also bolstered the hopes on the elimination of the emergency as the presidential address was expected to detail Assad's pledge to remove the law enforced in 1963.
Meanwhile in Latakia, violence escalated protesters set fire to a building housing the ruling Baath Party on Saturday. Forces were rushed to the coastal Syrian town. Quoting witnesses, Al Jazeera reported, police fired indiscriminately and snipers shot at specific people. Syrian security forces also reportedly fired tear gas at hundreds of people who staged a silent protest near a mosque in the town of Deraa, the focal point of the rising tide of protests against the brutal regime of Bashar al-Assad.
The anti-government protesters are demanding political reforms including lifting the emergency law which allows for arbitrary detention without trial.
So far, nearly 60 people are said to have been killed in the unrest, while the official estimate puts the death toll much lower.