March 31, 2011 / 4:15 PM / 9 years ago

Factbox: Protests in Middle East, North Africa

(Reuters) - Here are details of some of the rebellions, protests and rallies against authoritarian leaders in the Middle East and North Africa.

* LIBYA: Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi will stay in the country “until the end” to lead it to victory against its enemies, a government spokesman said on Thursday, a day after former Foreign Secretary Moussa Koussa defected and flew to Britain.

— Libyan rebels retreated from the superior firepower and tactics of Muammar Gaddafi’s troops on Wednesday, highlighting their weakness without Western air strikes to tip the scales in their favor.

— The rapid reverse comes just two days after the rebels raced westwards along the all-important coastal road in hot pursuit of the government army, whose tanks and artillery were demolished in five days of aerial bombardment in the town of Ajdabiyah. On March 26, rebels won back the strategic town.

— A conference of 40 governments and international bodies agreed in London on March 29 to press on with the NATO-led aerial bombardment of Libya’s forces until Gaddafi complied with the U.N. resolution to end violence against civilians.

— It also set up a contact group to coordinate international support for a transition to democracy in Libya. — Libya has been in a political vacuum since the uprising began in mid February with initial protests in Benghazi.

* SYRIA - Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, facing a wave of demonstrations for greater freedoms, set up a committee to look into replacing the emergency law with a new anti-terrorism law.

— Assad spoke in public on Wednesday for the first time in nearly two weeks of protests in which more than 60 people have been killed. On March 29 thousands of Syrians joined government-organized rallies across the country. Assad said a minority of people had tried to “spark chaos” in the southern city of Deraa, center of recent protests, but that they would be thwarted by the majority.

— Syria has been under emergency law since the Baath Party took power in 1963 and banned all opposition.

— On March 17 human rights group Amnesty International condemned a violent crackdown by Syrian security forces against a peaceful protest held in Damascus by people calling for the release of political prisoners.

* YEMEN: — Yemenis on Thursday commemorated protesters killed in weeks of street protests demanding President Ali Abdullah Saleh resign, as efforts continued to negotiate his exit from power within the next year.

— Saleh has made a new offer to protesters demanding his overthrow, proposing he stays in office until elections are held but transferring his powers to a caretaker government, an opposition source said on Wednesday. The opposition rejected the new proposal. On March 26 Saleh said he was ready to hand over power on condition that he could leave with dignity.

— At least 82 people have been killed since protests started and the March 18 killings of 52 anti-government protesters by rooftop snipers in Sanaa prompted Saleh to declare a state of emergency. It also prompted top generals, ambassadors and some tribes to support Yemen’s anti-government protesters in a major blow to the president.

* BAHRAIN: — Bahrain has stepped up arrests of cyber activists and Shi’ites, with more than 300 detained and dozens missing since it launched a crackdown on pro-democracy protests, the opposition said on Thursday.

— Bahrain’s largest Shi’ite opposition group Wefaq accepted Kuwait’s offer to mediate in talks with the government to end the political crisis, a member of Wefaq said on March 27.

— On March 16, Bahraini forces moved in to end the pro-democracy protests. They cleared protesters off the streets, including from the camp at Pearl roundabout that had become the symbol of an uprising by the Shi’ite Muslim majority. The military also banned all protests and imposed a curfew across a large swathe of Manama.

— Twenty-four people were killed in the clashes, the government said on March 29. The opposition Wefaq party said 250 people had been detained and another 44 have gone missing since the crackdown.

— Bahrain’s crown prince had warned all sides on March 7 against escalating a standoff, asking for patience before a national dialogue.

* JORDAN: A protester died after security forces broke up clashes on March 25 between supporters of King Abdullah and protesters calling for reform, and the government said it would not tolerate “chaos.” Jordan has seen weeks of protests calling for curbs on the king’s powers.

— The king has responded to the anti-government protests by sacking an unpopular prime minister last month and replacing him with Marouf al-Bakhit, a former intelligence general, in a step seen as dealing a blow to Islamists and liberal hopes for reform.

* SAUDI ARABIA: — Hundreds of Saudi Shi’ites staged a protest in the kingdom’s oil-producing Eastern Province on March 25 calling for prisoner releases and a withdrawal of Saudi forces from Bahrain, activists said.

— A Saudi human rights group said on March 23 authorities had arrested 100 protesters the week before in Shi’ite areas.

— Due to a large police presence on the streets of the Saudi capital, Riyadh, on March 11 almost no one turned up for a planned day of demonstrations.

— However, more than 200 protesters rallied in the city of Hofuf, which is close to the eastern Ghawar oil field and major refinery installations. Scattered protests have been staged in the city by minority Shi’ites, who complain of discrimination at the hands of the Sunni majority.

— King Abdullah offered $93 billion in handouts this month, and boosted his security and religious police forces but did not make concessions on political rights.

* OMAN: — Sultan Qaboos bin Said, who has ruled Oman for 40 years, ordered a pay rise for civil servants and government pensioners, to try to calm protesters demanding better wages.

Around 200 private sector workers staged a sit-in around government buildings in Oman’s capital on March 24, urging the Gulf Arab state’s ruler to ensure a pay rise that matches an increase for state employees. The Omani army cleared roadblocks erected by people protesting over private sector pay at the industrial city of Sohar on March 29.

* EGYPT: — Egypt will hold presidential elections one or two months after a parliamentary vote scheduled for September, a member of the country’s ruling military council said on Wednesday.

— New Prime Minister Essam Sharaf promised on March 26 to fight corruption, responding to public pressure to speed up investigations into alleged graft by allies of ousted President Hosni Mubarak.

— He also defended a draft law banning strikes, denying criticism from human rights groups that it curtails freedom of expression and the right to protest. A day earlier more than 2,000 people gathered across Cairo to demand more political reform, including a speedy trial of Mubarak.

— A big majority of Egyptians had approved amendments to the constitution in a referendum, results showed on March 20, opening the door to early elections.

— Mubarak stepped down on February 11 following 18 days of mass protests centered on Cairo’s Tahrir Square.

* TUNISIA: — President Zine Al-Abidine Ben Ali was toppled by mass protests on January 14 after 23 years of autocratic rule and fled to Saudi Arabia.

Writing by David Cutler, London Editorial Reference Unit

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