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Thai government lifts state of emergency

  • Associated Press
  • March 18, 2014 - 2:55 AM

BANGKOK — Thailand's government on Tuesday lifted a state of emergency in Bangkok and surrounding areas after violence related to the country's latest political crisis eased.

The Cabinet had decided to revoke the emergency decree, which expanded the power of security forces, after security agencies said the violence had "significantly decreased," said Department of Special Investigation Tharit Phengdit.

The Cabinet said that from Wednesday, the state of emergency will be replaced with the Internal Security Act, a security law with more limited powers. The act will be in place until April 30.

The decision "will also have a good impact on the country's image in terms of investment, business, tourism, as well as the daily lives of the general public," he said.

Deputy Prime Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul said the move will improve Thailand's international image after the sometimes violent political conflict left 23 dead and more than 700 were wounded since November.

"What the government has to do is ... to get rid of the military bunkers on the streets, which make the areas look like war zones," Surapong told reporters on Tuesday.

The government imposed the state of emergency became in the Bangkok area on Jan. 22 after anti-government protesters threatened to shut down the capital by blocking intersections and occupying government offices.

Under it, security forces could issue orders, and search, arrest and detain people without court approval and with limited parliamentary oversight.

Last month, a Thai court struck down several provisions of the decree, leaving beleaguered Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra with fewer options in dealing with the protesters, who had camped out for a month with virtual impunity in major intersections across the capital to press for her resignation. It noted that Thailand's Constitutional Court earlier ruled that the protesters were rallying peacefully.

Sporadic attacks, nonetheless, have continued in the capital city and nearby provinces.

© 2014 Star Tribune