[JURIST] Thailand's military leaders decided Monday to lift martial law in 40 of the country's 76 provinces, pending the approval of Thai Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont [official website; BBC profile]. Thailand has been under a state of martial law since the Thai military seized power from civilian prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra [JURIST news archive] in a bloodless coup [JURIST report] in September. The Council for National Security [official website, in Thai], the country's military council, did not specify which provinces would return to normalcy, but coup leader and Army Commander-in-Chief General Sonthi Boonyaratglin [BBC profile] indicated Monday that border provinces would remain under martial law.
Sonthi promised [JURIST report] last week that martial law would be eliminated by the end of the year. The US has urged Thailand to lift martial law [JURIST report], pulling almost $24 million in funding from the Thai government. Human rights groups have also called for martial law to be lifted [JURIST report], saying it is contradictory to the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights [text]. Reuters has more.