The decree, which applies to Bangkok and surrounding provinces,
gives 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.
"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," Labor Minister Chalerm
Yoobamrung told a nationally televised news conference.
The government had no plans to try to disperse protesters during the
night, he added, without elaborating.
He was speaking after a cabinet meeting which had to be held at air
force headquarters in the north of Bangkok because the protesters
have for weeks prevented Yingluck using her offices in Government
The protests, now in their third month, have closed off parts of the
capital in the latest installment of an eight-year political
conflict that has seen sporadic outbreaks of violence.
The protests 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.
The protesters want to suspend what they say is a democracy
commandeered by the self-exiled billionaire Thaksin, whom they
accuse of nepotism and corruption, and eradicate the political
influence of his family by altering electoral arrangements.
[to top of second column]
In a potentially worrying development for Yingluck, whose power base
depends heavily on rural support, some farmers have threatened to
join the protesters if they do not get paid for their rice vote.
A scheme under which farmers are guaranteed an above-market price
for their rice has been a centerpiece of the government's program
but, as financing strains mount, some are complaining they have been
waiting three or four months to be paid.
The protests are also beginning to undermine Southeast Asia's second
On Monday, the Thai subsidiary of auto giant Toyota Motor Corp, and
one of Thailand's biggest foreigner investors, said it might
reconsider a $600 million spending plan and even cut production if
the unrest drags on.
And some economists expect the central bank will be forced to
further cut interest rates when it meets on Wednesday to give a lift
to the economy.
(Additional reporting by Apornrath Phoonphongphiphat and Panarat
Thepgumpanat, writing by Alan Raybould and Jonathan Thatcher)
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