The United Nations has joined international rights groups in criticizing a decision by Thailand's military government to invoke a law that gives the junta chief near-absolute authority without any accountability.

U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein said Thursday that giving junta chief and Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha unfettered authority leaves the door open to serious violations of human rights.

Prayuth on Wednesday lifted martial law, which he imposed shortly before taking power in a coup last year, and instead invoked Article 44 of a junta-imposed interim constitution, which allows him to take any measures to keep public order. Thai officials said martial law was lifted because of foreign pressure.