Thai Prime Minsiter Abhisit Vejjajiva said on Sunday that an emergency decree would remain in place for now, but the situation was calm and an election was possible early next year.
Abhisit, in an interview, also said economic growth in the second quarter could exceed 6 percent and full-year growth could be close to 6 percent. He expected no rush by the central bank to raise rates as that would depend on recovery and inflation.
The prime minister said he wanted a quick end to emergency measures, imposed on about a third of the country amid the most violent protests in the country’s modern history between security forces and “red shirt” anti-government protesters.
But they would remain in place for now.
“I think people understand that this is needed to make sure that we can curb some of the remaining activities as far as those who want to use violent means are concerned,” Abhisit told Reuters on the sidelines of a World Economic Forum meeting.
Things were calm, he said, but “feelings could run high”.
“We want to do it as soon as possible,” he said.
“And what we’re waiting now is to make sure that everything’s in place, the police, the governors who’ll be the ones to tell us that they are confident to deal with the situation without added special power granted by the state of emergency.”
An early election, focal point of the protests, could solve problems and lead to reconciliation.
“If we pursue the reconciliation plan, if we get good cooperation, especially from people in the opposition, I think we could look at elections sooner rather than later,” he said.
The mostly poor rural and urban protesters, broadly allied with ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, blame authorities for the violence during which 88 people were killed.
Protesters, camped out in Bangkok for six weeks, had demanded an early election, saying Abhisit had no popular mandate and had come to power illegitimately in a parliamentary vote.
On the economy, Abhisit 12 percent gross domestic product growth in the first quarter had been “very impressive”. Forecasts had been cut back, but he hoped to achieve 6 percent for 2010, exceeding a state planning agency projection of 3.5-4.5 percent.
Interest rates had been kept at a record low of 1.25 percent since April 2009 to help revive the economy and any central bank move to raise them, he said, would depend on annual inflation, which picked up to 3.5 percent in May from April’s 3.0 percent.
“I don’t think they will be in a rush to raise interest rates, but obviously that will depend on how strong a recovery we see and how much upward pressure there is on inflation,” he said.
(Editing by Ron Popeski)