Syria’s government passed a bill on Tuesday lifting its emergency law, in place nearly fifty years — meeting a key demand of protesters.
The official SANA News Agency also reported that Syria is dissolving its security court that tries political prisoners and also passed a new law allowing peaceful protests.
However, it is not clear if Syria will allow opposition protests even with the lifting of the emergency law.
Earlier on Tuesday, the Interior Ministry called on people to refrain from taking part in any protests, marches and sit-ins. The country’s emergency laws banned demonstrations, controlled the media and allowed eavesdropping.
A senior lawyer says President Bashar al-Assad still needs to sign the legislation for it to take effect.
The moves come as witnesses say at least one person was killed when security forces fired on hundreds of demonstrators in the country’s third-largest city.
Witnesses say many people were wounded when the forces swarmed into the city’s main square , using tear gas and live ammunition to disperse protesters gathering there.
Hundreds of demonstrators had gathered in the square Monday intending to hold a sit-in until their demands for an an end to the country’s decades-old emergency law were met.
The standoff in Homs followed funeral processions attended by more than 10,000 mourners for at least 12 people killed in clashes on Sunday.
Human rights groups say more than 200 people have been killed during the government’s crackdown on protests.
Syrian authorities often have said their country is the target of a conspiracy. They blame the violence on armed gangs and infiltrators supplied with weapons from Lebanon and Iraq.
Syria has been ruled by the Assad family since 1970, when the current president’s father, Hafez al-Assad, became head of state. He died in 2000, leaving Bashar al-Assad to lead the country.