Thailand Lifts Emergency Law in Bangkok

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The Thai government agreed to end an eight month state of emergency in Bangkok. Thai authorities will be able to rely on the existing Internal Security Act to control any resurgence of anti-government violence.

On Tuesday, Thailand's government agreed to lift an eight month state of emergency in Bangkok. They said improvements in the political climate and the recent less confrontational approach of the anti-government "red shirts" are the main reasons behind the decision. There is also the Internal Security Act which is already in place and can be used if there's a resurgence of violence.

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The state of emergency was declared in Bangkok and surrounding provinces on April 7 after demonstrators occupying Bangkok's commercial heart broke into the grounds of parliament.

The protests were finally put down by the military in May.

In all, 91 died during the protests and more than 1,800 were wounded in the country's worst political violence in modern times.

The lifting of the decree came five days after the first meeting between the Thai prime minister and the acting leader of the red shirt protesters. They met to discuss bail for the movement's leaders and more than 100 others detained since May.

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The Internal Security Act does not automatically ban gatherings but allows the authorities to impose curfews and declare areas off-limits. However unlike the emergency decree, it does not allow detention without court approval.

Residents in Bangkok welcomed the move.

[Narumol Likitrattanapaisarn, Bangkok Resident]:
"With the emergency law being lifted, more tourists will come to Thailand, even though there are political groups holding gatherings."

Gatherings of more than five people were in theory banned although the red shirts have held several peaceful rallies since May. The latest protest was held on Sunday, attracting more than 10,000 people in central Bangkok.

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