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Protesters have occupied several government buildings in the capital, Bangkok [Reuters]
|The Thai government has declared a state of emergency in the capital Bangkok and surrounding areas to cope with protests aimed at forcing the prime minister, Yingluck Shinawatra, from power.Chalerm Yubumrung, Thailand’s labour minister, announced on Tuesday that the restrictions would come into force after midnight and last 60 days.
“We need it because the protesters have closed government buildings, banks and escalated the situation, which has caused injuries and deaths. The government sees the need to announce the emergency decree to keep the situation under control,” Yubumrung said.
The decree will allow 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 police, not the military, would mainly be used and her government had 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 on Tuesday.
The state of emergency follows increasing attacks at protest sites for which the government and the protesters blame each other. These include grenade attacks and drive-by shootings.
On Sunday, 28 people were wounded when two grenades were thrown at one of several protest sites set up in Bangkok.
Another grenade attack on a protest march last Friday killed one man and wounded dozens. No arrests have been made in either attack.
The protesters have been demanding Yingluck’s resignation to make way for an appointed government to implement reforms to fight corruption.
The protesters say that Yingluck’s government is carrying on the practices of Thaksin Shinawatra, her billionaire brother who was prime minister from 2001 to 2006, by using the family fortune and state funds to influence voters and cement its power.
Yingluck called elections for February 2, but the protesters want them postponed. The opposition Democrat Party, closely aligned with the protesters, is boycotting the polls.
The announcement of the emergency decree said the elections would proceed as planned.
Thailand Police & Military Step Aside As Anti-Government Protesters Reach PM’s Office; Declare Victory | Zero Hedge
As the “peoples’ coup” in Thailand gets the blessing of the country’s Military leader (who stated he would not intervene), the police have also undertaken an unexpected reversal of strategy by removing barriers from the heavily fortified police and government buildings. The government no longer wants to confront the protesters in the 3rd of fighting with 3 dead and at least 230 injured. As AP reports, the protesters have made no attempts (yet) to enter Government House but are milling around the entrance. The government has ‘asked’ people to stay inside and police helicopters are reportedly dropping leaflets warning demonstrators to move out of the rally sites (on grounds of insurrection and possibel death penalty). The anti-government protesters have declared “victory” as the police state “there will be no tear gas today.”
The protests come as “the people” rise up against “the elites” – a familar story (via The Economist):
The “people’s coup”, declared by Suthep Thaugsuban, a former deputy prime minister from the opposition Democrat party, states that“Thailand ruled by the Shinawatras is intolerable, and therefore the clan, including Miss Yingluck, Mr Thaksin and the rest, must be removed from power and replaced by a “perfectly democratic People’s Council.”
Alt-Thai News Network sums up the people’s view of the current leader:
In a particularly cogent op-ed titled, “Yingluck can’t duck responsibility for protest fatalities,” former editor Veera Prateepchaikul sums up perfectly the state of illegitimacy within which the current regime in Thailand resides.
He begins by describing Yingluck Shinawatra, current prime minister and sister of deposed US-backed dictator Thaksin Shinawatra, as aloft and absent. During the rare occasion she does attend any sort of government function, she appears lost and confused, and often bluntly states she does not know the answers to questions any other national leader would be embarrassed not to answer. This illustrates her role as placeholder for her brother, not the “democratically elected leader” she is portrayed as being by the Western media.
and while we have seen this kind of unrest before, this time is different (via The Economist):
For as long as Thais can recall, their governments have built up their majorities in the provinces. The same governments have been unmade rather handily in the capital, to the perennial relief of the Bangkok elite who enjoy ties with the royal palace. The notion that power has shifted permanently from the centre to the provinces—where the Shinawatras have their base—seems to be unacceptable to many of the old guard. The elite are used to thinking that power can always be clawed back in Bangkok.
As the last few days have been bloody and violent as this amazing drone clip shows:
Thailand’s Military appear to implicitly bless the coup…
Thailand’s armed forces will “stand from afar and monitor” anti-govt protests, Army chief Prayuth Chan-Ocha tells reporters, adding that political problems should “be solved by politics.”
Which has lead to this…
A collapse in Thai Consumer Confidence
and this… (via Alt-Thai News Network)
Anti-regime protesters, outnumbering police at two locations in Bangkok, Police Head Quarters and Government House, are poised to take over and occupy both locations peacefully as they have other government sites throughout the city.
However, the regime has dropped leaflets over the protesters claiming that the anti-regime protests constitute “insurrection” (which carries a maximum penalty of death), that the leaders are to be arrested, and protesters are to return home.
And the following…
However, we would be surprised if the regime just allowed itself to be overthrown: