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Asia Today ISSN 1861-4604 Friday, May 25, 2018

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Thailand revokes emergency as protests recede

Anti-government protests in Thailand

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BANGKOK, Thailand - The anti-government protests in Thailand may have dwindled with the government Tuesday deciding to lift a state of emergency that was put in place two months ago to quell street violence.

The caretaker government decided to revoke the emergency decree but replaced it with the less stringent Internal Security Act (ISA), which will be enforced from Wednesday to April 30, Prime Minister's Secretary General Suranand Vejjajiva said after the cabinet meeting.

Department of Special Investigation chief Tharit Phengdit said the decision was taken after security agencies reported that the violence had "significantly decreased".

He said the decision "will also have a good impact on the country's image in terms of investment, business, tourism, as well as the daily lives of the general public".

Political conflict in Thailand has left 23 people dead and more than 700 were wounded since it began in November, seeking the ouster of the government of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra.

Deputy Prime Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul said the latest move of revoking the emergency decree will improve Thailand's international image.

"What the government has to do is ... to get rid of the military bunkers on the streets, which make the areas look like war zones," Surapong told reporters on Tuesday.

 Yingluck also attended the cabinet meeting, but arrived in a wheelchair after slipping as she stepped out of a car Saturday in the northern city of Chiang Mai, her stronghold, according to the Reuters.

"The cabinet lifted the state of emergency to instill more confidence in the private sector and tourist industry," Yingluck told reporters.

Media reports said the emergency was lifted following a pressure from business houses that have suffered huge losses due to the crisis.

Tourism has suffered most during the unrest. Arrivals were down 4.1 percent in January and February compared to the same high-season period last year, according to the tourism ministry.

 Yingluck heads a caretaker administration with limited powers. She faces a slew of court cases, including a charge of dereliction of duty over a rice subsidy scheme that owes money to hundreds of thousands of farmers.

The cases could well bring her down.

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