Thailand's prime minister has asked the king for formal approval to lift martial law, which the military imposed ahead of a coup last May that overturned an elected government. The monarch's approval is considered a formality.

Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, the former army commander, has been under pressure to scrap martial law, which placed the military in charge of public security nationwide and has been criticized as a deterrent to tourists and foreign investors.

Prayuth told reporters Tuesday that he has asked King Bhumibol Adulyadej's approval to lift the measure. He said he would replace martial law with Article 44 of the junta-imposed interim constitution, which critics say is more draconian than martial law and essentially grants Prayuth absolute power.