Thai Cabinet imposes emergency rule in volatile south |

Thai Cabinet imposes emergency rule in volatile south

BANGKOK, Thailand – Thailand’s Cabinet on Tuesday imposed emergency rule in three provinces in the Muslim-dominated south, letting authorities detain suspects without charge and censor the media as the military battles an 18-month insurgency.The declaration, which took immediate effect, came under a new decree that grants Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra sweeping authority to combat the insurgency, which has left 900 people dead since it began.Critics say the decree was enacted too hastily and gives Thaksin too much power at the expense of human and civil rights.The declaration covers Yala, Narathiwat and Pattani, the only Muslim-dominated provinces in mostly Buddhist Thailand.The decree, which lets Thaksin unilaterally declare emergency rule, was signed into law by the country’s revered King Bhumibol Adulyadej.”We will use the least power provided by this decree in order to least affect civil liberties, but we aim to use this law to create peace in the southern provinces,” said Interior Minister Chitchai Wannasathit.There were no immediate reports Tuesday of authorities using it to take any actions.The decree follows Islamic insurgents’ raid Thursday on Yala’s capital, where they destroyed electrical transformers to plunge the city into blackness, then set off firebombs and other explosives around town and fired automatic weapons at security forces before escaping.Former Prime Minister Anand Panyarachun, head of the National Reconciliation Commission appointed by the government earlier this year to seek peace in the south, criticized the decree. He warned that “giving the government broader power could lead to increased violence and eventually a real crisis.”

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