January 21, 2014 (TSR -Bernama) – Thailand‘s caretaker government has announced emergency rules to counter demonstrations by the People’s Democratic Reform Committee group that have affected government administration and also commercial as well as financial activities in Bangkok.
The emergency rule would be effective for 60 days, starting from tomorrow, and covered Bangkok, Nontaburi province, Lat Lumkaew district of Pratumthani and Bangphli district of Sumutprakarn, said Surapong Tovijakchaikul, the caretaker deputy prime minister and caretaker minister of foreign affairs at a press conference at the Royal Thai Air Force, here this evening.
He made the announcement after a meeting with the security agencies.
He said the protesters had threatened and disrupted government servants working and had asked them to show support to the protest.
Surapong said the caretaker government invited the foreign ambassadors in Thailand for a briefing to explain the reason of the emergency decree announcement tomorrow.
“We will adhere to the international standard, we will not use weapons to disperse the protesters,” said Surapong.
The emergency rule allows the government to impose curfews, media censorship and bans on political gatherings.
Later, caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra said police officers would be the main force to enforce the emergency decree instead of the military in order to avoid a repeat of the violent crackdown on demonstrators similar to the one in 2010.
The cabinet had stressed on the security forces to discharge their duty with tolerance and abide with the international standard operation, she said after a long day of cabinet meeting at the Royal Thai Air Force, here today.
Previously, the police had pressed for an emergency decree to be issued but the military commanders felt there was no need for it.
The ongoing Shutdown Bangkok demonstrations organised by the People’s Democratic Reform Committee had resulted in ministers being unable to go to their offices, including Yingluck, and some agencies had to relocate their operations.
In the last few days there had been two grenade attacks on the demonstrators and the army intelligence indicated weapons and bombs being moved to the capital.
The government also faced demonstrations from rice farmers, who are mostly government supporters, after the farmers did not get payment for the rice sold to the government under the subsidy scheme.
Some of the demonstrating farmers were reported to have joined the the PDRC supporters who wanted to force Yingluck to resign and the election on Feb 2 postponed.
In a reaction to the emergency, the PDRC leader Suthep Thaugsuban said there was no need for the emergency decree to be issued as his group had demonstrated peacefully over the last three months.
“When I was a deputy prime minister in charge of national security, a state
of emergency was imposed because the Red Shirt protesters set fire, interrupted the ASEAN Summit meeting, shot at hotels and buildings,” he said referring to the incidents in 2010 in a speech before his supporters this evening.