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Thai army lifts nationwide curfew

General Prayuth Chan-ocha says he has lifted measure as "there is no tendency toward possible violence" in the country.

Last updated: 14 Jun 2014 11:39
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The military says that an interim government will be installed within three months [AFP]

Thailand's military government has announced that it has fully lifted a nationwide curfew it imposed after seizing power last month.

In an address broadcast on television channels on Friday, General Prayuth Chan-ocha briskly listed what he said were the army's achievements, including the seizure of weapons linked to political unrest.

"The overall situation in other areas of the country has been resolved and there is no tendency toward possible violence," Prayuth said. 

A government will likely be set up in August or early September,'' Prayuth said. "When ... we have a government, we will move forward. Then the reform council can begin.

General Prayuth Chan-ocha

"Therefore, in order to relieve and mitigate the impact on people's daily lives, and to boost tourism by Thais and foreigners, the curfew order is being cancelled in the rest of the country.

"There are still many problems left,'' he acknowledged. "Please give us time to deal with these problems."

Prayuth told civil servants earlier on Friday that a temporary constitution would be drafted and an interim government installed within three months, in his most specific timeline yet on a possible transfer of power after the coup.

He has said it could take more than a year after that for elections to be held because peace and reforms must be achieved first in the deeply divided country.

"A government will likely be set up in August or early September," Prayuth said.

"When ... we have a government, we will move forward. Then the reform council can begin."

Criticism banned

Political protests and criticism of the coup, however, remain banned by the military, which said a return to elected civilian rule cannot be expected for at least 15 months.

The curfew had earlier been reduced to four hours from seven hours, and had been lifted in several resort areas popular with tourists after complaints from the tourism industry over the financial damage it was causing.

Among the areas where the curfew had remained in effect was the capital, Bangkok, because of its political volatility.

Until the May 22 coup, it had been the scene of a half a year of anti-government protests and political turmoil that left at least 28 people dead and the government paralysed. 

Prayuth has justified the coup against the government, elected by a majority of voters three years ago, as necessary to restore order. 

But since taking power, the army appears to be carrying on the fight of the anti-government protesters by mapping out a similar agenda to redraft the constitution and institute political reforms before elections, just as they had demanded.

It has also gone after politicians from the previous pro-government "Red Shirt" movement that had vowed to take action if there was a coup.

At the centre of Thailand's deep political divide is Thaksin Shinawatra, a former prime minister supported by many rural Thais for his populist policies but despised by others, particularly Bangkok's elite and middle classes, over allegations of corruption, abuse of power and disrespect for the monarchy.

Thaksin, who is supported by the "Red Shirts" and was ousted in a 2006 coup and lives abroad in self-imposed exile, held great influence over the overthrown government, which had been led by his sister until a court ousted her last month.

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