Thai government declares state of emergency in bid to stall protests

60-day state of emergency to start today

Thailand’s Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra speaks to reporters following the declaration of a state of emergency in Bangkok yesterday. Photograph: Reuters

Thailand’s Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra speaks to reporters following the declaration of a state of emergency in Bangkok yesterday. Photograph: Reuters

Wed, Jan 22, 2014, 01:00

The Thai government has declared a 60-day state of emergency to start today, saying it wanted to prevent any escalation of more than two months of protests aimed at forcing prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra from power.

The decree, which covers Bangkok and surrounding provinces, allows security agencies to impose curfews, detain suspects without charge, censor media, ban political gatherings of more than five people and declare areas off-limits.

Yingluck said her government has no intention of confronting the protesters.

“We will use peaceful negotiations with the protesters in line with international standards . . . We have told the police to stick with international standards, to be patient with the protesters,” she said yesterday.

The protests, now in their third month, have closed off parts of the capital in the latest instalment of an eight-year political conflict that has seen sporadic outbreaks of violence.

They pit the middle class and royalist establishment against the mainly poorer supporters of Yingluck and her brother, ex-premier Thaksin Shinawatra, who was toppled by the military in 2006. – (Reuters)