Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha on Thursday lifted the state of serious emergency and other related orders in Bangkok, one week after they were imposed to tackle anti-government protests.
However, demonstrations continued in many provinces yesterday with crowds calling for the premier to resign. Protesters on Wednesday vowed to scale back their gatherings if Gen Prayut resigned within three days and ended all legal action against their leaders.
The lifting of the state of emergency came after Gen Prayut appeared on national television on Wednesday to extend an olive branch to the protesters. During his address, the premier urged all sides to take a step back from the political conflict, adding the government was prepared to revoke the state of serious emergency.
The emergency decree for the Covid-19 situation still stands.
In the announcement, published in the Royal Gazette, the emergency situation, which was initially supposed to take effect for one month, was lifted as of yesterday afternoon. The announcement said it was so because the "seriousness" of the situation had ended, and the authorities were able to enforce regulations and relevant laws.
Following the lifting of the state of emergency, the Civil Court yesterday cancelled a hearing for anti-government protesters who asked the court to issue a temporary injunction prohibiting the government's use of the serious emergency situation against them.
Meanwhile, Patsaravalee "Mind" Tanakitvibulpon, a student-protest leader from the Mahanakorn for Democracy Group, was released on bail yesterday by the Pathumwan court after she was arrested near Victory Monument on Wednesday night.
Wissanu Krea-ngam, deputy prime minister, said the premier was authorised to withdraw the state of emergency, but it could still be reimposed if "untoward incidents" occurred.
Surachai To-ngam, a lawyer representing the student protesters, said a group of six university students wanted the emergency situation revoked, noting a petition was filed at the Civil Court.
With state of emergency lifted, the injunction hearing is no longer necessary, he said.
The group, however, insisted their lawsuit against Gen Prayut and concerned parties for invoking the state of emergency will continue.
"The lifting of the [state of emergency] is not revoking the results of the emergency situation," the group's representative said. "We'll go ahead with the lawsuit to hold them accountable."
Pol Maj Gen Piya Tawichai, deputy commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Bureau, said people who were arrested for breaching the emergency situation while it was in effect will still face legal action.
Without the emergency situation and other related orders in effect, the spread of false information on social media is covered by the Computer Crime Law, while other offences, such as causing property damage, are covered by the Criminal Code, he said.
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) yesterday welcomed the government's move. It also welcomed its stance of aiming to resolve the political conflict in parliament.
UN human rights experts, including Clément Nyaletsossi Voule, Special Rapporteur, yesterday issued a statement urging the government to guarantee the fundamental rights of peaceful assembly and free speech and end the crackdown on peaceful protests.
In a related development, Wutthisak Lapcharoensap, acting rector of Ramkhamhaeng University, said an inquiry would be launched into scuffles that took place on Wednesday between pro-monarchy and anti-government protesters at the university campus.
Kannanat Pathornsuebnukul, spokeswoman of the government's Centre for the Resolution of Emergency Situation (CRES), yesterday presented a video clip prior to the scuffles at Ramkhamhaeng University.
The clip showed the anti-government protesters jeering and heckling pro-monarchy demonstrators before being attacked.
Ms Kannanat said the clip was not shown to pass judgement on who was in the wrong in the incident, but to point out that the scuffles did not break out without a cause and the incident would not have happened if both sides refrained from provoking each another.