Thai PM to lift emergency rules in Bankok

2020-10-21 16:41:10 GMT2020-10-22 00:41:10(Beijing Time) Sina English

This handout photo from the Royal Thai Government taken and released on October 16, 2020 shows Thailand’s Prime Minister Prayut Chan-O-Cha speaking at a press conference at the Government House in Bangkok while cabinet ministers look on following a cabinet meeting.

Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha said on Wednesday he was preparing to lift emergency measures imposed last week to stop protests in Bangkok and that disputes should be settled in parliament.

The emergency measures from last Thursday prompted demonstrations by tens of thousands of people, the biggest in three months of rallies to demand Prayuth’s removal and curbs on the powers of King Maha Vajiralongkorn.

“I will make the first move to de-escalate this situation. I am currently preparing to lift the state of severe emergency in Bangkok and will do so promptly if there are no violent incidents,” he said in an address to the nation.

The measures had banned political gatherings of five or more people and the publication of information deemed to threaten security.

“We must now step back from the edge of the slippery slope that can easily slide to chaos,” Prayuth added.

The protests are the biggest challenge to Thailand’s establishment in years and have drawn the most open opposition to the monarchy in decades despite “lese majeste” laws setting jail terms of up to 15 years for insulting royalty.

As Prayuth spoke, tens of thousands of protesters marched toward his office to demand his resignation as well as the lifting of the emergency measures and the release of dozens of activists arrested in a crackdown.

The other demands are for a new constitution and for reforms to a monarchy they say has enabled years of military domination.

The palace has a policy of making no comment to media.

In his speech, Prayuth said disputes should be resolved in parliament. The entire upper house was appointed by his former junta.

“The protesters have made their voices and views heard,” Prayuth said. “It is now time for them to let their views be reconciled with the views of other segments of Thai society.”