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Thailand democracy group urges new PM to lift martial law

[JURIST] A coalition of Thai democracy activists and academics Tuesday called for newly appointed Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont [BBC profile; official website] to lift the martial law imposed [JURIST report] on the country by the military leaders who seized power from Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra [JURIST news archive] in a bloodless coup [JURIST report] on September 19. The so-called Confederation for Democracy argued in a letter to the government that martial law is contradictory to the Thai constitution and the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights [text]. Confederation members also suggested that lifting martial law would create a more democratic atmosphere since the law currently prohibits gatherings of more than five people and imposes strict control over the information disseminated through the media.

King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand [JURIST news archive] Sunday approved [JURIST report] a new 39-article interim constitution [text] for the country drawn up by the new military leadership. The new charter provides for a civilian government but preserves the military's say in policy through a Council for National Security [Bangkok Post backgrounder] which, among other things, has the power to dismiss the administration. Military officials have suggested it will take about nine months to draw up the long-term constitution, with a national referendum and elections to follow. TNA has more.

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