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Thailand's junta chief said on Tuesday he would lift martial law but only after replacing it with a new order retaining sweeping powers for the military in a move critics warned would "deepen dictatorship" in the kingdom. Prime Minister Prayut Chan-O-Cha said he had asked the country's ailing 87-year-old King Bhumibol Adulyadej permission to lift the controversial law, which would then be replaced with special security measures. The former army chief imposed martial law and seized power in May following the ousting of Yingluck Shinawatra's democratically elected government after months of often violent street protests. Speaking to reporters Tuesday, Prayut said a new order to replace martial law would be "issued very soon".