Thailand Junta Nods to Foreign Calls for Scrapping Martial Law, but Takes Absolute Power

Thailand lifted martial law in most of the nation on Wednesday, but 10 months after staging a coup, a military junta remains in control, essentially with absolute power. The government of coup leader Prayuth Chan-ocha had faced growing pressure from foreign governments, human rights groups and particularly its own business community to remove martial law. Thailand's king on Wednesday officially approved a request from the junta that martial law be lifted, and the palace issued a statement saying it was "no longer necessary." In its place, Prayuth said he will invoke a special security measure in the junta-imposed interim constitution called Article 44. Critics say it gives Prayuth unchecked authority over all three branches of government and absolves him of any legal responsibility for his actions.