Thailand has just declared a 60-day state of emergency in Bangkok and surrounding areas to tackle mass protests aimed at overthrowing the government, but ruled out using force to end the rallies.
Announced by deputy interior minister, Visarn Techateerawat, the state of emergency will be carried out from 22nd January 2014 till 22nd March 2014.
The emergency decree will give 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.
This move follows weeks of mass demonstrations that have paralysed parts of the capital and sparked off several bouts of deadly violence, including grenade attacks and shootings.
Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra said there was no plan to give the army a leading role under the decree, which will come into force from Wednesday.
“That’s why we’re focusing on the police force, to avoid violence like in 2010,” she told reporters. “The authorities will start with negotiations.”
Yingluck is under intense pressure from demonstrators to step down after more than two months of street protests aimed at ousting her elected government and to install an unelected “people’s council”.
The protesters accuse her of being a puppet for her brother Thaksin Shinawatra, former premier of the country who was ousted from his position after a military coup in 2006 and is currently living in Dubai to avoid jail for a corruption conviction in Thailand while Yingluck’s supporters have accused the protesters of trying to provoke another coup.
“We will not use force. We have no policy to disperse them (the protesters) and we haven’t announced a curfew yet,” said Labour Minister Chalerm Yubamrung, who will oversee its implementation.
Yingluck has called an election for February 2 but the main opposition party is boycotting the vote.