DAMASCUS (Reuters/AFP) - Syrian forces opened fire to disperse hundreds of protesters in Deraa calling for an end to emergency laws on Monday, but demonstrators regrouped despite a heavy troop deployment, a witness said. At least 61 people have been killed in 10 days of anti-government protests in the southern city, posing the most serious challenge to President Bashar al-Assad's rule. Assad has yet to respond to the demonstrations, which have spread to the port city of Latakia and Hama, but Vice President Farouq al-Shara said Assad would give an important speech in the next two days. The demonstrators in Deraa converged on a main square chanting: "We want dignity and freedom" and "No to emergency laws," the witness said. He said security forces fired in the air for several minutes, but protesters returned when they stopped. Security forces have reduced their presence in recent days in the poor, mostly Sunni city, but residents said on Monday they had returned in strength. "(Security forces) are pointing their machine guns at any gatherings of people in the area near the mosque," said a trader, referring to the Omari Mosque which has been a focal point of demonstrations in the city. Meanwhile, pro-reform demonstrators are keeping up a sit-in demonstration in Muscat and other Oman cities despite offers already on the table from Sultan Qaboos who has ruled the Gulf state for four decades. Residents of the Omani capital said on Monday that dozens of youths have been holding a daily vigil on a square near the offices of Oman's Consultative Council and huddling round at night-time to talk politics. Elsewhere in the sultanate, which has a 2.5-million population of whom an estimated 20 percent are foreigners, peaceful sit-in actions are being held in other cities, especially the industrial hub of Sohar, north of the capital. Meanwhile, the prime minister of Jordan said on Monday people have the right to free speech and that the government will set aside special areas for protests, in an apparent bid to ease tensions after bloody clashes last week. "The freedom of speech and freedom of assembly are constitutional rights as long as they are peaceful, civilised and do not harm people," Prime Minister Maaruf Bakhit said in a statement carried by the state-run Petra news agency. "The government, which is keen on preserving these rights, will allocate certain places for demonstrations, to protect protesters and avoid obstructing the lives of others." A 55-year-old protester died and 160 people were injured on Friday when police broke up a pro-reform protest camp in Amman following a stone attack by loyalists against young demonstrators. "Carrying firearms, bats, stones and sharp tools as well as attempts to prevent peaceful demonstrations are condemned. They harm Jordan's image and reform drive," Bakhit said. "The security apparatuses must firmly stop any one who tries to break the law and threaten the lives and safety of citizens." Bakhit warned against "proposals of sedition." "I call on all political parties, civil society institutions and youths to avoid proposals of sedition, including traps posted online," he said. Meanwhile, a Tunisian court has rejected an appeal by the party of former President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali against a ruling that it be dissolved, the official TAP news agency said Monday. A judge in the Tunis Court of First Instance Court ruled on March 9 that Ben Ali's Constitutional Democratic Rally (RCD) be disbanded and its funds seized, provoking street celebrations as one of the last vestiges of the ousted leader's rule was dismantled. The party lodged an appeal a few days later. "The appeals court rejected the appeal lodged regarding the dissolution of Constitutional Democratic Rally party," TAP said.