Thailand’s military-backed government extended the country’s state of emergency for a second time, to the end of June, despite opposition calls to scrap it after novel coronavirus cases dwindled.
The step is needed to lower the risk of another wave of illness as a lockdown is
eased, spokeswoman Narumon Pinyosinwat said after the cabinet backed the move. The emergency imposed late March gives Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-Ocha sweeping powers, including a ban on large gatherings that prevents anti-government protests of the kind seen before the virus hit.
The administration is loosening the lockdown in stages to restart the economy and reiterated the emergency is an apolitical tool to counter the pathogen. The opposition argues less strict legislation can manage the outbreak. It’s also raised the prospect of asking a court about the lawfulness of bills earmarking 1.9 trillion baht ($60 billion) in stimulus to fight a recession.
“The latest extension is a consolidation of power, and an unnecessary use of power,”
said Anusorn Iamsa-ard, a spokesman for Pheu Thai, the largest opposition party. Pheu Thai said it could ask the Constitutional Court to assess the validity of the stimulus legislation if a debate in parliament from Wednesday fails to bring clarity.