THE Centre for Resolution of the Emergency Situation (CRES) resolved yesterday to retain the state of emergency in all 24 provinces where it has been in effect since early April.
The decision, supported unanimously by participants at yesterday's CRES meeting at the Army headquarters, would be submitted today to the Cabinet for approval by Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban, the CRES chairman, who is in charge of security affairs, CRES spokesman Colonel Sansern Kaewkamnerd said.
The state of emergency was first imposed in Bangkok and some surrounding provinces on April 7 after a group of red shirt protesters stormed into the Parliament compound. Later, when the anti-government protests got more aggressive, other provinces - mostly in the Northeast - were added to the list, eventually totalling 24.
The emergency status will have been in effect for three months tomorrow (July 7).
It was unclear yesterday how long the state of emergency would be extended for. One CRES source had said it was likely to continue for 60 days.
Yesterday's meeting lasted about two hours. After, the spokesman said participants discussed intelligence gathered by the military, police and the Ministry of Interior. They had agreed security concerns were still valid.
"The meeting agreed unanimously that the CRES needs to retain the state of emergency as a tool to take care of the 24 provinces," Sansern said.
"The CRES found that the current situation remains unstable. Distortion of facts and information continues and missing weapons have not been returned to security agencies," he said, referring to weapons seized by red shirt protesters from soldiers and police during anti-riot operations.
"Permanent officials agreed on the need to retain the emergency decree in order to maintain peace and order and ensure economic stability," the spokesman said.
Earlier, it was expected that the state of emergency might be lifted in some of the 24 provinces where the situation is viewed as improving.
However, Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva had made it clear Bangkok would remain under emergency status due to security concerns.
Meanwhile, the Internal Security Operations Command (Isoc) plans to dispatch some 1,200 officials to rural areas in order to address their suffering and encourage social unity, Army deputy spokesperson Colonel Sirichan Ngathong said yesterday.
She said Isoc reported its plan to yesterday's monthly meeting of representatives from units in the Army. The meeting was chaired by Army chief General Anupong Paochinda.
Sirichan said Isoc reps told the meeting that its plan would be adjusted to suit each area in case the emergency decree was lifted.
The 24 provinces under the state of emergency are:
Central Region: Bangkok, Nonthaburi, Samut Prakan, Pathum Thani, Nakhon Pathom, Ayutthaya, Chon Buri.
The North: Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Lampang, Nakhon Sawan, Nan.
The Northeast: Khon Kaen, Udon Thani, Chaiyaphum, Nakhon Ratchasima, Si Sa Ket, Ubon Ratchathani, Maha Sarakham, Roi Et, Nong Bua Lamphu, Sakon Nakhon, Kalasin and Mukdahan.
-The Nation/Asia News Network