State of emergency ‘to be lifted today’

The emergency decree will be lifted and replaced with the Internal Security Act (ISA) at the cabinet meeting today, caretaker Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul said Monday.

Mr Surapong, in his capacity as chief adviser to the Centre for Maintaining Peace and Order (CMPO), said his agency decided yesterday to ask the cabinet to revoke the decree.

The minister said the composition of the Centre for the Administration of Peace and Order (Capo) under the ISA will be the same as the CMPO.

Caretaker Labour Minister Chalerm Yubamrung, who is now CMPO chief, will be Capo director, Mr Surapong said.

According to Mr Surapong, he will propose the cabinet ask national police chief Adul Saengsingkaew to contact the army to remove bunkers from Bangkok roads.

There will be no need for them when the decree is lifted, he said, adding their presence have scared away foreign tourists, hurting the economy.

The bunkers should be relocated to government offices, he said.

The minister said after the emergency decree is revoked, he will ask foreign embassies to encourage tourists and investors to return to Thailand.

Department of Special Investigation (DSI) chief and CMPO member Tarit Pengdith said the emergency decree will be replaced by the ISA because violence has subsided.

The ISA will take effect immediately after the cabinet approves it today, he said.

The CMPO office in the Narcotics Suppression Bureau on Vibhavadi Rangsit Road will be used as the Capo command centre, Mr Tarit said.

There will be a downgrade of law enforcement power as result, he said, and officials under the ISA will not use force to disperse demonstrators.

However, the power to make arrests remains in place as many people are now wanted under arrest warrants, he said.

A total of 58 people are wanted on insurrection charges, while there are 371 cases concerning efforts by anti-government protesters to scupper the Feb 2 poll, Mr Tarit said.

He said the CMPO was also wary of the People's Democratic Reform Committee's move to train its guards, numbering more than 2,500, at its Lumpini Park rally site.

Such training could incite the use of violence, the DSI director-general said, adding the guards have also previously resorted to violence and the use of weapons.

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