Martial law won't be lifted yet: Thai PM

Martial law won't be lifted yet: Thai PM
Thai Army chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha (C) prepares documents before a meeting with high ranking officials at The Army Club after the army declared martial law nationwide to restore order, Bangkok May 20, 2014.

THE NATIONAL Council for Peace and Order is unlikely to lift martial law in the near future as groups campaigning against the junta have been detected both in Thailand and abroad.

Prime Minister and NCPO chief Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha assigned NCPO secretary-general and Deputy Defence Minister Gen Udomdej Sitabutr to chair a meeting to review martial law but the junta did not discuss lifting martial law during its meeting yesterday, as had been expected.

Prayuth said he personally wanted to lift martial law but the situation did not allow this.

"I do not want to maintain martial law but restrictions will be eased gradually as the situation improves. I will tell you when. But we need to have measures for maintaining stability. Please wait for our signal," he said on his weekly TV programme yesterday.

A source said regional Army areas were still in the process of evaluating the security situation before considering whether martial law should be lifted.

The source said the Second and Third Army areas, which cover the North and Northeast, have detected underground groups campaigning against the NCPO.

The two regional Army areas found that the groups dared not campaign against the NCPO openly because martial law is still imposed.

The meeting was also informed of campaigns against the NCPO via online media. The meeting was told that a group of opponents also campaigns against the NCPO in Japan and had submitted a letter to the Japanese prime minister, alleging that the junta is torturing opponents.

Intelligence officials also reported to the meeting that opponent groups had revived their campaigns against the junta since the Cabinet was formed.

The officials said the groups did not dare to campaign openly because martial law is still imposed so they were demanding that the law be lifted first.

In Tokyo, a group of 26 people gathered in front of Japan's Foreign Ministry where senior officials of ASEAN and Japan were meeting, to protest against the Thai junta. They want the Thai government to lift martial law.

They tried to submit a letter to the Japanese government but nobody took their appeal. Foreign Ministry permanent secretary Sihasak Phuangketkeow was in Tokyo for the ASEAN-Japan Forum.

In regard to the new Cabinet, Justice Minister Paiboon Koomchaya said the PM had scheduled for it to meet on Tuesday but it was not clear when he would declare the governments' policies in the National Legislative Assembly.

Ministers have been preparing to enter their offices next week, perhaps on Tuesday when the Cabinet will meet. The PM may not move to work at Government House before he steps down as Army chief, a source said.

Deputy PM Yongyuth Yutthawong said Prayuth suggested that his ministers wear the "Rajapattern" jacket, instead of formal Western suits, when they attend Cabinet meetings.

Prayuth chose to wear business suit when he proposed the 2015 Budget bill to the National Assembly last month. But he wore a military uniform when he stated junta policy to members of the National Reform Council's selection committees on Thursday.

Meanwhile, the National Anti-Corruption Commission said yesterday that members of Prayuth's Cabinet were required to declare their assets within 30 days of their appointment.


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