Lift martial law, restore democracy, UN chief tells PM

Lift martial law, restore democracy, UN chief tells PM
Secretary General Ban Ki-moon speaks to the media at the United Nations on July 28, 2014 in New York City.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has expressed concern over the continuation of martial law in Thailand, and urged the government to ensure a prompt return to civilian rule and constitutional order.

The UN chief made the point during a meeting with Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha on the sidelines of the ASEAN Summit in Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar, late on Wednesday.

Prayut explained to the UN chief the political situation in Thailand that had led to the coup against an elected civilian government.

"The secretary-general acknowledged the prime minister's point that stability had been restored in Thailand. However, the UN chief expressed his concern at the continuation of martial law. He encouraged the prime minister to ensure a prompt return to civilian rule and constitutional order in Thailand," according to a UN statement.

Prayut told Ban that political conflict and violence in the Kingdom months ago offered the military no choice but to take action to maintain peace, law and order, according to Government Spokesman Yongyuth Mayalarp.

"The government has a clear intention to restore peace for the benefit of public safety," he quoted Prayut as telling the UN chief.

Prayut also explained to Ban that Thailand was now in the second stage of its road map to reform and reconciliation. The authority is pushing forward the reform of 11 sectors for a sustainable democracy, he said.

Ban also thanked Prayut for Thailand's long-standing contribution to UN peacekeeping. He also welcomed the efforts of Thai people to raise donations for the battle against Ebola. The UN chief encouraged Thailand also to participate by sending health workers to join the campaign to fight the virus.

Prayut had been in Myanmar for the ASEAN Summit and related meetings since Tuesday. He also had bilateral meetings with several world leaders to explain the political situation, seek understanding for his reform efforts and trying forge cooperation with those countries.

In a meeting with Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, Prayut thanked Russia for increasing its imports of Thai agricultural products, including fruits, vegetables and canned foods, and expressed the hope that bilateral trade would double to about US$10 billion (Bt328 billion) by 2016.

The two sides congratulated each other on their long-standing ties ahead of the 120th anniversary of diplomatic relations in 2017.

With Thailand remaining a popular destination for Russian travellers, Prayut assured Medvedev that the Kingdom was a safe place to visit and that his government would make every effort to ensure the well-being of all visitors.

The general also extended an invitation to Russia to invest in Thailand's infrastructure development projects.

In return, Medvedev voiced readiness to push trade and investment cooperation between the two countries, saying he would expand the market for Thai produce within Russia. He also invited Prayut to make an official visit to Russia when convenient.


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