NCPO chief takes aim at anti-royalists

NCPO chief takes aim at anti-royalists

Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha has urged Thais not to be misled by anti-monarchy elements, saying the monarchy gives support to every government. 

During his weekly televised address last night, Gen Prayuth, who also heads the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), said Thais must use reason and not be swayed by accusations made against the monarchy by anti-monarchy elements.

"His Majesty never vies for love from anyone. His duty is to look after low-income people and those suffering hardships first. He always helps with the work of every government," Gen Prayuth said.

"Don't ever believe those who are trying to make provocative remarks which offend His Majesty," he said.

Gen Prayuth stressed that the lese majeste law is needed to protect the monarchy. "His Majesty is not in a position to respond or explain," the premier said.

Responding to calls to lift martial law, Gen Prayuth said he is trying to ensure the security situation will be resolved as quickly as possible, saying martial law, which has been imposed nationwide, will be lifted gradually in more areas.  

"You may know what is happening at the moment. Something may be still invisible to you, but we can see them. We have teams monitoring and assessing the situation all the time. However, [martial law] must be lifted gradually in the future and I'll tell you when," he said.

Gen Prayuth added: "I will stay in office for quite some time."

The NCPO is awaiting input from each army region before deciding whether to lift martial law. Its peace-keeping task force has not yet decided on the partial revocation of martial law as it still needs reports on the security situation in different parts of the country, said an army source.

The 1st Army had earlier proposed to Lt Gen Thirachai Nakwanit, chief of the NCPO's peace-keeping task force and also commander of the 1st Army Region, that martial law be revoked in two tourist destinations — Pattaya in Chon Buri and Hua Hin of Prachuap Khiri Khan — to boost the nation's image for tourists.

The NCPO has no plans to lift martial law in Bangkok and its surrounding provinces as there are still anti-coup activities, particularly the distribution of leaflets attacking the council and secret meetings of anti-coup groups, said the source.

The 3rd Army Region, which is in charge of the North, could not revoke martial law in Chiang Mai though the province is a tourist area. There were still groups with differing ideologies and reconciliation is not yet complete in the North, said the source.

The 4th Army was considering lifting martial law in Phuket and Krabi, but military units in those provinces wanted to tackle forest encroachment first.

"Anti-coup groups are raising pressure for the lifting of martial law as they have been plotting to stage a move. Thus, the NCPO cannot revoke martial law, but it may partially lift it in some areas. Now is not the time to lift martial law since the public is not adversely affected," said the source.

Martial law was announced on May 20, two days before the military staged the coup that ousted the Yingluck government.

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