04/24/2009, 00.00
THAILAND
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Bangkok, state of emergency lifted. Abhisit calls for dialogue

Decision aimed at “fostering national reconciliation” after weeks of violent protests by “red shirts”. Last weeks clashes have brought the tourist industry to its knees. The national state airline announces a 20% drop in bookings.

Bangkok (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva lifted a state of emergency in Bangkok today. The decision is aimed at “fostering national reconciliation” after weeks of violent anti government protests led by the “red shirts” loyal to exiled former premier Thaksin Shinawatra.

Abhisit imposed emergency rule in the capital and five surrounding provinces on April 12 after protesters demonstrations spread to the capital. Two people were killed and 123 injured as protesters clashed with troops. The protesters wanted the premier’s resignation and accused him of “illegitimately” taking power.  The anti government demonstration disrupted a mid month summit of Asian leaders in the coastal city of Pattaya.

“Lifting the state of emergency –explained Abhisit –is part of measures to find a solution for the country. The Government wants to show its sincerity, that the Government wants reconciliation and to make the country move forwards”. The unrest has further damaged the key tourist industry and Thailand's recession-bound economy; bookings taken by Thai Airways International, the state-controlled airline, have fallen by 20%.

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