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Government lifts emergency decree in Bangkok, three provinces

(SEAPA/IFEX) - The Thai government lifted the emergency decree on Bangkok and three outlying provinces on 22 December 2010, media reports said.

"The Nation" said that with the lifting of the decree, the Center for the Resolution of the Emergency Situation (CRES), which implemented the decree, was also dissolved.

However, Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said the Internal Security Operations Command (ISOC) will use the Internal Security Act (ISA) to deal with any security threats. The Prime Minister is the ex-officio head of ISOC while the Defense Minister is his deputy.

A new organization, the Situation Monitoring Center, will take charge of monitoring any security threats. It will operate under ISOC. Army Chief of Staff Dapong Rattanasuwan will head the new organization, to be staffed by some 100 personnel composed of soldiers, policemen and civilians.

The "Bangkok Post" quoted acting government spokesman Panitan Wattanayagorn as saying that the threats presented by the Red Shirt protests have subsided.

Interior Minister Chaovarat Chanweerakul, however, quoted Army Commander-in-Chief Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha as saying that the emergency decree can be invoked again should the situation demand it.

The emergency decree (or Emergency Decree on Government Administration in States of Emergency 2005), imposed on 24 provinces including Bangkok on 7 April, grants the Thai military the power to restore order and allows the government to impose curfews, ban public gatherings of more than five people and censor and ban media from disseminating news that "causes panic." Under the decree, security officials are also allowed to detain suspects without charge for up to 30 days.

Aside from Bangkok, the emergency decree has also been lifted in the provinces of Nonthaburi, Pathum Thani and Samut Prakan.

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