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Thai PM ends 12-day state of emergency

THAILAND'S prime minister ended a 12-day state of emergency in Bangkok and surrounding areas yesterday and called for constitutional reforms.

"The lifting of the decree will send a signal to the world that Thailand is back to normal," Abhisit Vejjajiva said after signing the order to end emergency rule.

The government has ordered an inquiry into the clashes, which killed two people, injured more than 100.

Supporters of exiled former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra ended their three-week street campaign after troops moved in to restore order.

Speaking after two days of heated parliamentary debate on the violence and government crackdown, Abhisit said lifting the decree showed "that we are sincere about wanting reconciliation".

Thai stocks rose after the decree was lifted, outperforming other Asian markets. Thai firms were counting the cost of the latest unrest, with national carrier Thai Airways suffering a 20 percent drop in bookings since the emergency was imposed.

The calm may be short-lived. A leader of the pro-Thaksin United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship called on supporters to hold a one-day rally in Bangkok today.

"We will demand Abhisit's resignation, a dissolution of the House and the scrapping of all arrest warrants against the red shirts," Somyos Prueksakasemsuk said.

Police asked a court yesterday to extend the detention of three top protest leaders and they are hunting others blamed for Thailand's worst street violence in 16 years.

The Abhisit government has been trying to extradite Thaksin after revoking his passport. It has sent arrest warrants to the United Arab Emirates, where he had given foreign media interviews during the unrest in Bangkok.


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