Dancers perform during a celebration to boost tourism,
along the Khaosan tourist street in Bangkok. The
performance was part of an event arranged by the Khaosan
Road business association in a bid to boost tourism under
the curfew. Photo by Reuters
Thailand's ruling military government has lifted a
nationwide curfew to bolster the country's vital tourism
industry and promised to install an interim government in
General Prayuth Chan-ocha, who heads the council that has
overseen the country since taking over on May 22, said that
power would be handed to a government in August. That, he
said, was part of a three-phase plan of reconciliation,
formation of a government and elections.
"A government will be set up by August, or at the very latest
September," Prayuth told a meeting devoted to the 2015
national budget. He did not say whether the government would
be made up of civilians or military officials.
In an evening television announcement, the National Council
for Peace and Order said conditions had improved enough -
after months of periodically violent street demonstrations -
to lift the curfew across the country.
"As the situation has improved and there have been no
incidents that can lead to violence ... and in order to
improve tourism, the curfew will be lifted in all remaining
provinces," the council announcement said.
The curfew, imposed throughout Thailand after the coup, was
lifted over the past week in 30 provinces, including the main
tourist destinations. It had remained in place from midnight
to 4am in 47 provinces, including Bangkok.
In a rambling 40-minute address to the nation, Prayuth issued
a wide range of promises to make the economy more efficient,
streamline energy policy and improve the lives of ordinary
Thais. He pleaded for more time to achieve the military's
The army staged a bloodless coup after six months of turmoil
pitting mainly rural supporters of ousted Prime Minister
Yingluck Shinawatra against her Bangkok-based, royalist
In his comments to military officials, Prayuth repeated that
a temporary constitution would be drafted within three
months. It would take at least a year until a new general
election could take place.
"In the next three months we must do everything properly,
whether it is the constitution or other matters. Everything
for the first phase should be complete by August," Prayuth
Most Bangkok residents have taken the coup in stride.
Business has gone on more or less as usual in offices and
restaurants and public transport remain packed.
Lifting the curfew was a key element to coax back hesitant
tourists - an industry that accounts for 10 percent of the
The junta this week also made a concession to Thailand's many
soccer fans as the World Cup got underway in Brazil, ordering
broadcasting authorities to ensure all games were shown on
CRACKDOWN ON DISSENT
But the military has acted firmly to curb dissent. Soldiers,
barely visible in most districts, have been quickly mobilised
to snuff out any bid to stage protests.
The military has rounded up at least 300 politicians,
activists and journalists. Many are linked to exiled former
Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who was ousted by a 2006
coup but is alleged by opponents to have directed from abroad
the government led by his sister Yingluck.
On Thursday, police charged prominent activist Sombat
Boonngamanong with inciting unrest, violating cyber laws and
defying the junta's orders. He had spearheaded an online
campaign promoting street protests against the coup.
Thailand has been polarised for nearly a decade between
supporters of Yingluck Shinawatra and her brother, former
telecommunications tycoon Thaksin, on the one hand and ultra-
royalist groups, mostly made up of middle-class Bangkok
residents, on the other.
A court found Yingluck guilty of abuse of power on May 7, for
transferring the country's security chief to another post so
that a relative could benefit from related job moves, and
ordered her to step down after months of street protests
aimed at toppling her government.
Military leader Prayuth says he stepped in to restore order.
He has made the economy and the welfare of farmers a
The army has begun payments to hundreds of thousands of
farmers under a costly rice-buying scheme, one of the key
policies that brought Yingluck to power in 2011.
Prayuth told Friday's meeting that the military had no plans
to keep the programme, which opponents said incurred big
losses. Farmers are owed more than $2.5 billion under the
scheme, a key element in a court ruling that removed Yingluck