The Thai Government has declared a 60-day state of emergency in Bangkok and neighbouring areas from January 22 in response to the capital “shutdown” movement launched by anti-government protesters.

The decree, announced by Deputy Minister of Home Affairs Visarn Techateerawat after a cabinet meeting on January 21, empowers security forces to impose a curfew, detain suspects without charge, censor the media, close off parts of the capital and prevent political groupings of five or more people.

Speaking at a press conference televised nationwide, Thai Minister of Labour Chalerm Yoobamrung said the decree aims to prevent the protesters from blockading governmental buildings and banks, which escalated tension and caused casualties.

Yoobamrung also confirmed that the government has no plan to disperse protesters at night.

The protests in Thailand have lasted for three month with high risk of violence. So far, the protests caused one death and many injuries. The army has allegedly stood neutral.

Also on January 21, the Election Commission (EC) announced that it will submit a request to the Constitutional Court, asking for its ruling on the postponement of the election slated for February 2.

According to Puchong Nutrawong, EC’s Secretary-General, the election could not be organised in 28 constituencies while there is a lack of 50,000 observers to work at polling stations. The commission wanted to avoid a waste of 3.8 billion baht (115.763 USD) for the election preparations.

Nutrawong also added that the commission will still continue the election preparations while waiting for the court’s final decision.-VNA