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Thai PM to Lift Martial Law


FILE - Thailand's Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha at the Government House in Bangkok.
FILE - Thailand's Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha at the Government House in Bangkok.

The head of Thailand's ruling military council says he has asked the country's king for permission to remove the martial law that was put in place following a coup last year.

Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha told reporters Tuesday that King Bhumibol Adulyadej will have to decide whether to lift the martial law, though the step is seen as a formality.

The martial law has given wide-ranging powers to the military to stifle free speech, crack down on political rivals, and prevent gatherings of more than five people.

The junta leader said a new order to replace the martial law will be issued "very soon" and will be based on Article 44 in the interim constitution, which gives expansive powers to the military.

The new decree will still allow for civilians to be tried in military courts, the prime minister said.

The military seized power in May after embattled Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra was removed by a court order. It was the military's 12th coup in the last 80 years.

Junta leaders have said the coup was necessary to restore order following months of sometimes violent protests against Yingluck.

Thailand has seen years of political unrest since Yingluck's brother, former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, was toppled by a military coup after being accused of corruption, abuse of power and disrespect for the monarchy.

Thaksin remains highly popular among the rural, and parties controlled by him have won every national election since 2001.

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