14 Sep 2008

State of emergency in Bangkok lifted

9:13 pm on 14 September 2008

Thailand's acting prime minister has lifted a state of emergency in Bangkok, 12 days after it was enforced in response to violent clashes between pro- and anti-government groups.

Somchai Wongsawat told a news conference the level of violence has eased.

He says the state of emergency would damage the country if it continued.

Thousands of protesters have besieged the grounds of Government House in Bangkok since last month to try to force the resignation of then prime minister Samak Sundaravej and his cabinet.

Instead the Constitutional Court stripped Mr Samak of his powers last week, ruling he had illegally accepted payments for hosting TV cooking shows.

Mr Samak ended his bid on Friday to return to power as prime minister after a revolt within the ruling party torpedoed his re-election in parliament.

The ruling People Power Party and its coalition partners now plan to nominate a new candidate ahead of a vote in parliament on Wednesday by politicians for a prime minister.