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Last Updated: Friday, 26 January 2007, 14:09 GMT
Thailand partly lifts martial law
Thai military tank next to a road in Bangkok on 25 September 2006
Martial law has been in place since the coup
Martial law has been lifted in more than half of Thailand, two months after the move was authorised, a government spokesman said.

The move means Bangkok and 41 of Thailand's 76 provinces are no longer under the special restrictions imposed in the wake of September's coup.

The lifting was approved by the military-backed government in November but has been awaiting royal approval.

Martial law continues in northern and border provinces, including Chiang Mai.

Analysts say Chiang Mai is a stronghold of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who was ousted in the September coup while travelling overseas, and who is yet to return to the country.

'Security concerns'

King Bhumibol Adulyadej "had signed the royal command to abolish martial law" in 41 Thai provinces, a government spokesman told the AFP news agency.

Martial law would remain in the other 35 provinces, mostly along the borders, according to an announcement published in the Royal Gazette.

Defence minister Boonrawd Somtat said in November emergency laws were remaining in those provinces "due to both domestic and foreign security concerns, as well as concerns about drug smuggling and illegal immigration".

The restrictions will remain in place in Thailand's insurgency-wracked southern provinces as well as in the northern areas.

Martial law has been in place since the coup on 19 September 2006.

While the military leadership has been under international pressure to lift martial law, in practice few Thais have felt the restrictions, correspondents say.

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