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Call to extend Thai emergency laws
Officials say tough laws introduced amid red shirt protests should stay in force.
Last Modified: 06 Jul 2010 03:52 GMT
The sweeping emergency laws were introduced on April 7 in response to growing red shirt unrest [AFP]

Thai security officials have recommended the government extend the country's state of emergency laws for three months.

The laws banning public gatherings and giving police powers to detain suspects for 30 days without charge cover 23 provinces, as well as the capital, Bangkok.

The measures came into force in April, after 90 people were killed and almost 2,000 injured in clashes between the military and anti-government protesters known as the red shirts.

On Monday, the government unit set up to oversee security during the unrest unanimously backed the call to maintain emergency rule "because of security concerns," Colonel Sunsern Kaewkumnerd, a spokesman, said.

"It might be revoked earlier if the situation improves," he told the AFP news agency.

Parliamentary by-election

The recommendation to prolong the state of emergency for another three months will be presented on Tuesday to the Thai cabinet.

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Abhisit Vejjajiva, the Thai prime minister, has said previously that emergency rule would likely be lifted in many areas but not Bangkok, rejecting a call from the opposition for it to be revoked ahead of a parliamentary by-election in the capital due on July 25.

A red shirt leader detained on charges of terrorism during the unrest earlier this year is running in the Bangkok by-election as a candidate for the opposition Puea Thai Party.

In April, two months of mass protests by the red shirt movement calling for Abhisit to resign and call fresh elections, sparked outbreaks of violence that left 90 people dead, mostly civilians.

In response Abhisit invoked emergency rule in Bangkok on April 7, banning public gatherings of more than five people and giving broad powers to the police and military.

Human rights campaigners have voiced concerns that the government's use of the sweeping emergency powers lacks transparency and violates freedom of expression.

Enraged red shirt protesters went on a rampage of arson across central Bangkok after a deadly army crackdown ended their rally on May 19.

The unrest also spread outside the capital, particularly in the red shirt heartland in Thailand's impoverished northeast.

Source:
Agencies
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