Thai PM revokes emergency measures after week of protests

Thai PM revokes emergency measures after week of protests

BANGKOK: Thailand on Thursday (Oct 22) 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 official Royal Gazette said that as of 12pm (1pm Singapore time) 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 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 Prayut Chan-o-cha and King Maha Vajiralongkorn.

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

READ: Thai prime minister rejects calls to resign, braces for renewed protest

"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," Sirawith "Ja New" Seritiwat, one of the leaders, said:

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

READ: Thai police order media probe over protests, restrict Telegram app

READ: Thailand suspends TV station over protests coverage

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

Patsaravalee, 25, told reporters after being freed that the court had deemed the charges were not serious and that she still needed to attend classes and exams, so bail was granted without having to submit any guarantees.

READ: 'A moving current': Thai protesters adopt Hong Kong tactics

Protesters say Prayut rigged an election last year to keep hold of power he seized in a 2014 coup. He says the election was fair. Protesters accuse the monarchy of enabling years of military domination and want to curb the king's powers.

The palace has a policy of making no comment to media. 

Source: Reuters/kv

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