Two days after his government passed a law lifting emergency rule, Syrian president Bashar al-Assad has signed decrees ending it, which was a key demand of protesters who took to the streets over recent weeks (photo, from bbcimg.co.uk).
According to rights groups more than 200 people have been killed.
The end of 48 years of emergency rule abolishes state security courts and allows citizens to protest peacefully.
State TV and Sana (the Syrian Arab News Agency) said that in Thursday’s decrees, president Assad lifted the emergency law, enacted a new law legalizing peaceful demonstration and abolished the state security courts.
But protests will still need the interior ministry’s approval.
Although he welcomed the move, rights activist Ammar Qurabi told Reuters news agency that it must be followed by other measures, including the release of prisoners detained during the unrest.
However the move was called “useless” by Haitham al-Maleh, a prominent opposition figure. He told Reuters that in order to make the move a meaningful one, Syria needed an independent judiciary and accountability for security apparatuses.
“The problem is that the ruling elite and the security have put their hands on the judiciary, and that other legislation they had introduced exempted the security forces from being held accountable to law,” Mr Maleh told Reuters.
Abdel Halim Khaddam, a former Syrian vice president based in Paris told BBC Arabic: “The crisis in Syria has nothing to do with the presence or absence of the state of emergency.”
Mr Khaddam, who became an important critic of Mr Assad’s regime, added : “It is not the state of emergency that arrests people and takes them to jail and it is not the state of emergency that fires on people.”