Thailand’s capital was under a state of emergency on Wednesday after the government moved to tighten security as protesters trying to oust Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra threatened to disrupt an election she has called for early next month. Bangkok was calm and early commuters traveled to work as normal. There were no troops on the streets, as has been the case throughout the crisis since November, and even the police presence was light. No overnight curfew was enforced. Announcing the 60-day emergency late on Tuesday, ministers said they had no plans to clear the camps that protesters have set up at seven major road junctions in the city. Rather, they said they wanted to prevent an escalation of violence after deaths and injuries caused by grenade attacks on demonstrators over the weekend.
The protests are the latest episode in an eight-year political conflict that pits Bangkok’s 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.
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 has called an election for February 2, which she will almost certainly win and which the opposition plans to boycott.