Martial law lift likely for 40 provinces, not Bangkok
The Council for National Security (CNS) yesterday resolved to propose the lifting of martial law in more than half of the country's 76 provinces and retain it in strategically significant areas including Bangkok and the surrounding provinces.
CNS chairman General Sonthi Boonyaratglin, who chaired yesterday's meeting of the council, said it will today ask the Cabinet to lift martial law in more than 40 provinces and keep its presence in "unstable" areas.
"CNS leaders have decided that martial law should be lifted in some 40 provinces," Sonthi said. "But the resolution will not apply to the southernmost provinces and those in the North and Northeast, which border neighbouring countries or are at risk of facing turbulence."
However, the decision to lift martial law in Bangkok would lie with Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont, he said, adding the final decision would rest with the Cabinet.
"If something happens in Bangkok, the prime minister will be responsible for handling it. So I will leave him to decide whether Bangkok should remain under the law," Sonthi said.
Although the Cabinet is expected to consider the proposal at its weekly meeting today, Surayud refused to comment on the issue.
Earlier, Defence Minister General Boonrawd Somtas said martial law would remain in Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Buri Ram and Surin - where pro-Thaksin groups are still active.
Sonthi said he wanted to keep martial law in the southern provinces where suspected militants had intensified their attacks on civilians.
A military source said yesterday the CNS would propose that martial law be lifted in 48 provinces. It would ask the government to retain martial law in 28 provinces, most of them in border areas, including Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Buri Ram, Surin, Kanchanaburi, Phitsanulok, Song-khla, Narathiwat and Pattani.
"They also agreed that due to their strategic significance, martial law should be retained in Bangkok and the adjacent provinces like
Pathum Thani and Samut Prakan," said the source.