Octobr 13, 2007
Martial law to be revoked in 11 provinces
Thailand's National Security Council (NSC) agreed Friday to revoke martial law in 11 out of 35 provinces, and reinstate military control in an additional three provinces.
As a result of the resolution, martial law will remain imposed in 27 provinces, covering areas of 344 districts.
Martial law was imposed nationwide in Thailand's 76 provinces after a bloodless coup on September 19, last year and gradually lifted in most areas, including the capital, Bangkok.
The NSC meeting, chaired by coup leader and recently-appointed deputy prime minister Gen. Sonthi Boonyaratkalin, decided that martial law be lifted in seven northeastern provinces -- Chaiyaphum, Khon Kaen, Nakhon Ratchasima, Maha Sarakham, Roi Et, Nong Bua Lam Phu and Udon Thani, as well as the central provinces of Phetchaburi and Ratchaburi, the southern province of Prachuap Khiri Khan and the northern province of Kamphaeng Phet.
However, the meeting resolved that martial law be reintroduced in Nong Khai, Nakhon Phanom and Mukdahan, the three northeastern provinces viewed as political strongholds of the defunct former ruling Thai Rak Thai (TRT) party founded by ex-prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra who was deposed in the September 19 coup.
Among the 27 provinces to remain under martial law are the northern province of Chiang Mai, hometown and political stronghold of ousted prime minister Thaksin, and the northeastern province of Buri Ram, home province of former minister Newin Chidchob, one of Mr. Thaksin's close aides.
Gen. Sonthi said the NSC's resolution was made for the national benefit. He said martial law remains imposed in several border provinces, including Chiang Mai and Buri Ram, since threats of border problems remain intact, including illegal entry by immigrants and, drug smuggling.
The decision to lift or impose martial law was made with regard to national security, not for political reasons, he stated.
"Despite being under martial law, political groups can hold their activities or election campaigns as long as they have no negative impact on the national security or violate the rules of the Election Commission," said Gen. Sonthi.
The deputy prime minister stressed that the government would see to it that the imposition of martial law would not cause any obstacles to political campaigns by political parties to contest the general election scheduled to be held December 23.
Asked if martial law would be lifted in more areas, Gen. Sonthi said the law will be eventually lifted when the situation stabilises.
In addition, the deputy prime minister said, the council will propose to the Cabinet on Tuesday to extend for another three months the enforcement of emergency rule in insurgency-plagued three southern border provinces of Yala, Pattani and Narathiwat.
Full story on http://etna.mcot.net/