Thailand’s junta lifted an overnight curfew after earlier easing restrictions in the country’s main tourist cities, as the army chief who seized power in May seeks to draw back travelers and investors.
The National Council for Peace and Order made the announcement in a televised statement Friday, after assessing that the risk of political violence had diminished. Junta leader Prayuth Chan-Ocha has said the army had no choice other than to take power after months of street protests against the government headed Yingluck Shinawatra, whose brother Thaksin Shinawatra was ousted in a coup in 2006.
“The overall situation across the country has eased, and there are no sign of violence,” the junta said. “To ease the impact to people’s daily lives and boost tourism by Thais and foreigners the curfew is being lifted in the remaining areas nationwide with immediate effect.”
Total visitor arrivals to the country fell 20 percent after martial law was declared May 20, the tourism ministry estimated. The junta initially imposed a 10 p.m. to 4 a.m. curfew nationwide and gradually eased restrictions starting with tourist destinations including Phuket, Koh Samui, Pattaya and Hua Hin.
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After ousting the elected government, the army suspended the constitution and used its powers under martial law to ban political activities, enforce the curfew and order more than 300 people to report in, including politicians, protesters, journalists and academics.
The coup has been criticized by countries including the U.S., U.K., Japan and Australia, with some suspending military cooperation. Rights groups have voiced concern about post-coup detentions and the crackdown on freedom of expression, and have urged the junta to hold elections as soon as possible.
Prayuth has said there can be no elections until the system is reformed — a process that will take at least 15 months — and the country is united. An interim government will be installed in September and an interim legislative assembly will be formed soon after, he said Friday in a televised speech.
The junta says it had to take control of Thailand because seven months of protests and conflict had resulted in at least 28 people, paralyzed the government and risked civil war. It seized power days before groups were set to intensify their rallies both in opposition and support of Yingluck, who was removed as prime minister by a court in early May.