03282014Headline:

Bangkok State of Emergency

The Thai government has imposed a 60-day state of emergency in Bangkok and surrounding provinces from Wednesday to help contain the mass street protests that have blocked parts of the capital.

Anti-government protesters have been on the streets of Bangkok for more than two months now, aimed at forcing prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra to step down.

“The cabinet decided to invoke the emergency decree to take care of the situation and to enforce the law,” Deputy Prime Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul said.

The move follows weeks of mass rallies in the city that have sparked several bouts of violence, including grenade attacks and shootings that each side has blamed on the other.

But the government says it has no plans to disperse the protest movement, led by opposition firebrand Suthep Thaugsuban.

Labour Minister Chalerm Yubamrung, who will oversee the implementation of the emergency decree, says Thailand would abide by international standards.

“We need it because the protesters have closed government buildings, banks and escalated the situation, which has caused injuries and deaths,” he said.

“The government sees the need to announce the emergency decree to keep the situation under control.

“We will not use force. We have no policy to disperse (the protesters) and we haven’t announced a curfew yet.”

The emergency decree gives security agencies the power to impose curfews, detain suspects without charge, censor media, ban political gatherings of more than five people and declare parts of the capital off-limits.

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