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Thailand curfew lifted

Thailand's ruling military govt lifted the curfew to bolster the country's tourism industry.

Thai army chief General Prayut Chan-ocha speaks during a press conference at the army headquarters in Bangkok on 26 May 2014. Picture: AFP.

BANGKOK - Thailand's ruling military government lifted a nationwide curfew on Friday to bolster the country's vital tourism industry and promised to install an interim government in August.

General Prayuth Chan-ocha, who heads the council that has overseen the country since taking over on 22 May, 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," he 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 4 am in 47 provinces, including Bangkok.

In a rambling 40-minute address to the nation, Chan-ocha 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 aims.

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 opponents.

In his comments to military officials, Chan-ocha 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," he said.

Most Bangkok residents have taken the coup in their 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 economy.

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 free-to-air channels.