State of Emergency Lifted in Thailand

ONE day after Parliament acted to reduce the military's power, Thailand's government on May 26 lifted emergency measures imposed during bloody clashes between troops and pro-democracy demonstrators.

The state of emergency had banned public gatherings and had given authorities broad search-and-arrest powers in Bangkok and surrounding provinces. It was imposed May 17 by Prime Minister Suchinda Kraprayoon, a former Army chief who led a February 1991 military coup.

At least 48 people were killed and more than 500 left missing in four days of violence. Widespread outrage forced Mr. Suchinda to step down May 24 after declaring an amnesty for himself and senior Army officers.

Acting Prime Minister Meechai Ruchupan and Interior Minister Anan Kalinta announced the end of the state of emergency May 26.

On May 25, Parliament began approving constitutional reforms to reduce the influence of the military, which has dominated the country's politics for six decades but now is widely despised by the people. The amendments would reduce the power of the military-appointed Senate and require that the prime minister be an elected member of Parliament. Final passage is expected on June 10.

The reforms had wide backing from the opposition parties and the governing parties, which abandoned Suchinda because of the public outrage.

Chavalit Yongchaiyudh, a former Army chief who heads the opposition New Aspiration Party, is struggling to form an alternative government, said Democratic Party legislator Surin Pitsuwan.

Many military officers in the Senate were absent during the May 25 vote in Parliament, possibly because they feared violence from the 2,000 demonstrators outside who were demanding the prosecution of officers who ordered soldiers to shoot demonstrators.

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