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Thai defense minister says decision on martial law imminent

[JURIST] Thai Defense Minister Boonrawd Somtas again suggested Monday that martial law could be lifted by Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont [official website; BBC profile] before the PM leaves for an international summit in Vietnam on November 18, and said that a decision would be made in the next day or two. Somtas told reporters, however, that even if the military junta in control of Thailand decides to lift martial law [JURIST report], it would likely not take effect until the end of November, and may not apply to the entire country.

Thailand [JURIST news archive] has been under martial law [JURIST report] since the Thai military seized power from former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra [JURIST news archive] in a bloodless coup [JURIST report] in September. Somtas said last week that Chulanont was considering lifting [JURIST report] martial law since Thailand's allies who also plan to attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation [official website] summit, including the US and Japan, will be "more comfortable" if martial law is lifted. The US urged Thailand to lift martial law [JURIST report] last month, pulling almost $24 million in funding from the Thai government. AFP has more.

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