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Thailand Lifts Emergency Rule in 6 Provinces

Thai protesters at rally site in downtown Bangkok, 18 May 2010

Thailand's prime minister has lifted a state of emergency in six provinces imposed during massive anti-government protests earlier this year.

Abhisit Vejjajiva announced the decision Thursday after a meeting with national security officials. But he said emergency rule would remain in effect in Bangkok and a number of other areas.

Mr. Abhisit first declared a state of emergency in April, as thousands of anti-government protesters known as the "Red Shirts" virtually shut down Bangkok for several weeks. The emergency decree suspends some civil liberties, allows censorship and makes it easier to use the military to keep the peace.

The demonstrations ended on May 19 when Thai security forces broke up the "Red Shirts'" encampment. Ninety people died in violence during the unrest.

The protesters are mostly rural poor and urban working class activists who support former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, ousted in a 2006 coup on allegations of corruption.

They view Mr. Abhisit's government as a puppet of Bangkok's elite and the military, and accuse it of taking office illegally.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.