Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Thailand: Government Announces End of State of Emergency in Capital, Surrounding Area

According to AFP, effective March 19, the embattled government of Prime Minister Yingluck Sinawatra, 46, announced the end of a state of emergency in Bangkok and surrounding areas, hoping to encourage the return of foreign visitors following an easing of deadly protests that have confronted the capital.

The use of emergency rule, imposed nearly two months ago, dealt a heavy blow to Thailand's key tourism industry during what is usually the peak season, and also raised fears of a decline in foreign investment.

The state of emergency will be replaced by another special law, the Internal Security Act, which will be in effect until April 30, 2014.

"We're confident that we can handle the situation, so the cabinet agreed to revoke the state of emergency as requested by many parties," Yingluck said.

Yingluck has faced more than four months of political protests aimed at ousting her elected government and installing an unelected "people's council" to oversee reforms.

COMMENT: Tragically,  the widespread street protests have left 23 dead and hundreds wounded from grenade attacks and random shootings.

The demonstrators late last month moved to scale back their rallies, consolidating at one site in Bangkok's Lumpini Park as they ended their so-called Bangkok shutdown.

Thailand has been periodically rocked by mass demonstrations staged by rival protest groups since a military coup in 2006 that ousted then PM Thaksin Shinawatra, 64, Yingluck's brother. 

Yingluck's critics say she is merely a puppet of Thaksin, who fled overseas in 2008 to avoid jail on a corruption conviction.

The February election has not been completed because of disruption by the protests, leaving the PM's government in a caretaker role with limited powers.