Martial law in Thailand will remain in place “indefinitely,” the country’s justice minister told Reuters in an interview nearly six months after the military overthrew the government of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra.

“Martial law is necessary and we cannot lift it because the government and junta need it as the army’s tool,” Justice Minister Gen. Paiboon Koomchaya told the news agency. “We are not saying that martial law will stay in place for 50 years, no this is not it, we just ask that it remain in place for now, indefinitely.”

Thai Prime Minister Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha had originally promised to restore democracy by next year, but as we reported last month, he said the date could be pushed back.

The justice minister’s comments come just ahead of tourist season, which accounts for nearly 10 percent of Thailand’s gross domestic product. Tourism took a hit following the May 22 putsch that brought Prayuth to power. But as NPR reported last month, the head of the Tourism Authority of Thailand said martial law is good for tourism because it ensures the safety of foreign tourists.


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