[JURIST] Thailand Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont [BBC profile; official website] declined a request to declare a state of emergency in Bangkok Friday, although he said he had not ruled out the possibility of doing so in the future. Military officials had sought the declaration to crack down on critics of the interim government; emergency powers would have allowed the government to ban public gatherings, impose curfews and censor the local media. Surayud also hinted for the first time that general elections will occur in December and a referendum on the new constitution [JURIST news archive] will be held no later than September. Thailand [JURIST news archive] is presently governed by an interim constitution [JURIST report] imposed by military leaders. Anti-coup protesters have hosted rallies against the coup and increased pressure on the interim-government to restore democracy.
Surayad, a former career military officer, was appointed by Thai military generals in October of last year following the September 19 bloodless coup by the Royal Thai Army [JURIST report]. In October, one of the coup leaders admitted that Thai investigators were struggling to find evidence of corruption against former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra [BBC profile; JURIST news archive], the ostensible reason for Thaksin's overthrow. On Monday, criminal tax evasion charges were filed against Thaksin's wife [JURIST report]. AP has more.