Thailand’s Prime Minister lifts state of emergency. Protesters give him three

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An announcement in the Royal Gazette on Thursday said “as it has appeared the severe situation which had resulted in an enactment of emergency decree, has resolved and halted.” The new order, which came into effect at midday in Bangkok, said the situation had returned to a state where normal law enforcement can address the situation.

It follows a pre-recorded televised speech from Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha on Wednesday, who said he is taking the first steps to “de-escalate” political tensions that have seen tens of thousands of protesters take to the streets in recent months, calling for a new constitution, monarchy reform and Prayut’s resignation.

“The protestors have made their voices and views heard,” Prayut said. “As the leader of the nation who is responsible for the welfare of all Thais — whether they be protestors or the silent majority with whatever political convictions — I will make the first move to de-escalate this situation.”

Prayut said he would lift the state of severe emergency in the capital on the condition that “there are no violent incidents” and asked protesters to work through representatives in parliament.

“I ask the protesters to reciprocate with sincerity, to turn down the volume on hateful and divisive talk, and to let us, together, disperse this terrible dark cloud before it moves over our country,” the Prime Minster added.

Meanwhile, an extraordinary parliamentary session was given royal assent and will be convened from Monday, according to an announcement from Thailand’s Royal Gazette. Thailand’s parliament is in recess but will be recalled to debate the crisis. The order said King Maha Vajiralongkorn approved the session “With necessity for the national interest.”

Sources: CNN reporting and Reuters

Student-led demonstrators have continued defying an emergency decree imposed last Thursday that banned public gatherings of more than five people, restricted the publication of information deemed to incite fear among the public, and granted broader powers to security forces.

Tens of thousands of pro-democracy protesters rallied in Bangkok and other cities over the weekend, galvanized by clashes between police and protesters on Friday. Many people, including celebrities, have publicly condemned the police’s use of water cannons to disperse protesters.

“Last Friday night, we saw things that should never be in Thailand,” Prayut said in Wednesday’s speech, referring to some of the violent clashes between protesters and police. But he acknowledged the peaceful “well-meaning” demonstrators as well.

Started by students, the protest movement has been mostly peaceful and has attracted support from a wider cross-section of society. Marches and flash-mob style rallies are organized online over messaging platforms such as Telegram, with protest locations announced last minute on social media.

On Wednesday, protesters said they were giving Prayut three days to resign or face more demonstrations.

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