Thailand’s junta lifts martial law

Thai junta chief and premier Prayut Chan-O-Cha.

Thai junta chief and premier Prayut Chan-O-Cha.

Bangkok [AFP]

Thailand’s junta has lifted martial law but replaced it with new orders retaining sweeping powers for the military under a section of the interim constitution that has been lambasted by rights groups.

‘As of now there is a royal order to lift martial law across the kingdom,’ said an announcement on military television on Wednesday.

It added that the controversial law will be replaced by special security measures outlined in the interim charter which critics say allow junta chief and premier Prayut Chan-O-Cha to wield even greater powers.

The former army chief imposed martial law and seized power last May following the ousting of Yingluck Shinawatra’s democratically-elected government after months of often violent street protests.

Under the new orders announced late Wednesday political gatherings of more than five people will still be banned, as they were under martial law.

The rules have been imposed to ‘handle any actions that will destroy peace and order and national security, also any violations against the NCPO (junta)’, the announcement said.

Last year’s coup was the latest twist in a decade of political conflict broadly pitting a Bangkok-based middle class and royalist elite – backed by parts of the military and judiciary – against pro-Shinawatra urban working-class voters and farmers from the country’s north.

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