Thailand is set to lift a state of emergency imposed on the capital and surrounding area two months ago amid mass anti-government protests. This came after protesters ended a campaign to "shut down" Bangkok.
The office of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra (pictured above, in wheelchair) announced on Tuesday that her cabinet had agreed to end the state of emergency imposed by her government two months ago, after security officials reported a decrease in violence related to the political unrest.
"We're confident that we can handle the situation so the cabinet agreed to revoke the state of emergency as requested by many parties," the prime minister told reporters following a cabinet meeting held in Nakhon Pathom province, around 80 kilometers, 50 miles from Bangkok.
The country's national security chief, Paradorn Pattanathabutr told the Reuters news agency, though, that despite the lifting of the state of emergency, the authorities would still have sufficient powers to impose order if needed.
"We have agreed to lift the state of emergency and use the Internal Security Act starting from tomorrow until April 30 as the number of protesters has dwindled ... and after pleas from the business community," he said.
While less harsh than a state of emergency, the Natonal Security Act gives the authorities the power to impose measure such as curfews, checkpoints or restrictions on movement as deemed necessary.
Prime Minister Yingluck also acknowledged that the state of emergency had taken a toll on the country's economy, particularly at a time which is high season for Thailand's tourism industry.
"The cancellation is to build confidence in the economy and the tourism sector," she said.
Vote disruption despite emergency measures
The government imposed the state of emergency on January 22 in a bid to contain protests ahead of the February 2 general election. However, this did not prevent protesters from disrupting the vote in almost 70 of the 375 constituencies. This left parliament short of a quorum to elect a new prime minister. Yingluck and her government have remained in power on a caretaker basis with limited powers.
Twenty-three people were killed and hundreds of others wounded in clashes between police and anti-government protesters in recent months. The demonstrators scaled back their activities a couple of weeks ago, ending their campaign to "shut down" Bangkok and have since concentrated their protests at one site in a city park.
pfd/kms (AFP, Reuters, AP)