World

Thailand revokes emergency decree

Move is latest bid to stop protests against government and monarchy

BANGKOK: Thailand yesterday rolled back an emergency decree aimed at ending months of protests against the government and monarchy that had only inflamed anger and brought tens of thousands of people onto Bangkok streets.

A government statement published in the Royal Gazette said it would mean an end to measures that include bans on political gatherings of five or more people and publishing news that could affect security.

The measures gave the police carte blanche to arrest protesters and seize electronic materials believed to threaten national security - a move that has drawn public condemnation.

"The current violent situation that led to the announcement of the severe situation has eased and ended to a situation in which government officials and state agencies can enforce the regular laws," the statement said.

The only specific incident given for the ban was one in which Queen Suthida's convoy was jeered by protesters, but it came after protests that are the biggest challenge in years to Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-o-cha and King Maha Vajiralongkorn.

NOT ENOUGH

Protesters who have given Mr Prayuth a three-day deadline to quit said that withdrawing the measures was not enough.

"He's still seeking to stay in power while ignoring all the people's demands. The emergency decree shouldn't have been issued in the first place," one of the leaders, Sirawith "Ja New" Seritiwat, said.

Dozens of protesters - including many of the most high-profile protest leaders - were arrested during the crackdown.

Among them was Ms Patsaravalee "Mind" Tanakitvibulpon, who was released yesterday after being arrested a day earlier.

Ms Patsaravalee, 25, said the court had deemed the charges were not serious and that she still needed to attend classes and exams, so bail was granted without any guarantees.

Protesters say Mr Prayuth rigged an election last year to keep hold of power he seized in a 2014 coup. He says the election was fair. Protesters also want to curb the king's powers.

Mr Prayut had said on Wednesday that the country must "step back from the edge of the slippery slope that can easily slide to chaos". Parliament - which is in recess - has been recalled for a special session on Monday in a bid to resolve the crisis. - REUTERS, AFP

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