Thailand lifts Bangkok state of emergency


Chiang Mai, Thailand (eTN) – Thailand’s acting Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat along with the Royal Thai Army General Anupong Paochinda, and Royal Thai Police Commissioner-General Patcharawat Wongsuwan, held a press conference at the Royal Thai Armed Forces on Saturday to announce yesterday’s lifting of the state of emergency decree in Bangkok.

The Thai interim prime minister has called on all sides to reconcile as a present for His Majesty King of Thailand, Bhumibol Adulyadej. He also called on the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) to stop protesting at Government House because the government is concerned for the demonstrators.

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Urging both pro- and anti-government protesters to follow the law, Wongsawat said that the conflicts should come to an end. “The country has been damaged heavily,” the prime minister said.

In reality, Thailand is already facing a number of problems affecting the economy, especially the important tourism industry.

“Thailand is known as the ‘Land of Smiles’ among foreigners,” he said, adding,
“and we should try our best to bring back that impression.”

Senior business executives from the private sector earlier voiced opposition to the emergency decree, charging that it has a psychological impact on foreign investor confidence and tarnishes the image of Thailand’s capital.

On September 2, then Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej had imposed a state of emergency in Bangkok, after protests calling for his resignation turned violent. He was later forced to step down because the Constitutional Court had found him in violation of conflict of interest rules for hosting a television cookery show.

Acting Prime Minister Wongsawat is one of the top three People Power Party (PPP) nominees running for the new prime minister’s post. The other two candidates are Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Surapong Suebwonglee and Justice Minister Sompong Amornwiwat. However, as of Sunday, Thailand’s ruling party said it was renominating deposed Samak Sundaravej to be prime minister which will undoubtedly bring yet another round of protests.

The House of Representatives is scheduled to vote for a new prime minister on Wednesday, after inadequate members showed up to hold a valid vote last Friday.