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Thai prime minister lifts state of emergency

THAILAND'S prime minister today lifted a state of emergency that was imposed in the capital after rioting by anti-government protesters.

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva made the announcement at the end of a two-day special parliamentary session aimed at finding a solution to the country's political crisis.

"Lifting the state of emergency is one of the measures to find a solution for the country," Abhisit told the parliamentary session. "The government wants reconciliation and to move the country forward."

The state of emergency was imposed April 12 following rioting in Bangkok. Two people were killed and 123 injured as protesters clashed with troops and residents.

The decree banned gatherings of more than five people and news reports that threatened public order and allowed the government to call up military troops to quell unrest.

The protests were part of Thailand's long-running political turmoil, which revolves around former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra's ouster in a 2006 military coup for alleged corruption and abuse of power.

Thaksin's supporters, who are known as the "red shirts," rioted in Bangkok last week, calling for Abhisit's resignation and new elections.

The red shirts, mostly from the rural poor who benefited from Thaksin's social welfare programs, claim Abhisit, who was appointed by Parliament in December, came to power illegitimately after court rulings removed two Thaksin-allied governments.

Their protests came after three years of sporadic protests by Thaksin's opponents, the "yellow shirts," whose rallies paved the way to the 2006 coup and the later court dismissals of Thaksin's allies. The yellow shirts come mainly from the urban, middle class and educated elite of Thai society, including royalists.


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