Bangkok: Thailand`s government said it was lifting a state of emergency in three provinces but it would remain in force in 16 others including Bangkok, after being imposed in April to help authorities cope with unrest. "The lifting is because there`s no movement or any sign that could lead to unrest, and the government has adequate security forces to maintain a peaceful situation," deputy government spokesman Supachai Jaisamut said after a cabinet meeting on Tuesday.
"The government continues to impose the state of emergency in 16 provinces because there is some movement there," he told reporters.
The government had lifted the emergency in five provinces on July 6 when the initial period came to an end, but extended it for another three months in other areas covering a quarter of the country, saying anti-government elements still posed a threat.
The state of emergency bans political gatherings of more than five people and gives the government powers to censor the media. It also gives broad powers to the security forces, including the right to detain suspects without charge.
Ninety people were killed and almost 2,000 wounded in clashes in central Bangkok in April and May between protesters demanding early elections and security forces.
The protesters, mostly poorer Thais who back ousted former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, were forced to quit their camp in the capital by military action on May 19, after which some rioted and committed arson.
Tuesday`s removal of the emergency covered one province in the north and two in the northeast of the country.
Opposition parties had pressed for the emergency to be lifted in Bangkok to allow campaigning for a parliamentary by-election on Sunday, where the pro-Thaksin Puea Thai Party is fielding a "red shirt" currently in detention facing terrorism charges.
On Friday, visiting U.S. Under Secretary of State Bill Burns had urged the government to end the emergency. "We believe our friends in Thailand best serve their own interest through a peaceful resolution of political differences," he said.
Calm was quickly restored after May 19 but the government fears some in the "red shirt" movement may still attempt to provoke further trouble, even though hundreds, including most of the leadership, are being held by the security forces.