Thai opposition protesters launched their attempted shutdown of Bangkok on January 13, occupying key intersections and governmental buildings in the capital city in a bid to “freeze” a large number of economic activities.

Shopping malls in the city operated as normal while public agencies and schools announced their closure to ensure security.

According to the Thai Army Spokesman Winthai Suwari, soldiers have been deployed at several locations, especially the main government office, in order to both assure safety for demonstrators and help maintain social order and compliance with the law.

The same day, Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra assigned Deputy PM Phongthep Thepkanjana to hold talks with all the concerned sides on the Election Commission’s (EC) proposal to postpone the election slated for February 2.

Thepkanjana is scheduled to meet representatives from the EC, political parties, supporters and opponents of the election on January 15.

On January 12 the EC formally requested PM Yingluck to consider postponing the polls to a later date, tentatively May 4.

The Bangkok Shutdown is expected to last 20 days, and will cost an estimated 1.25 billion USD to the Thai economy, a 0.2 percentage point off its growth, as consumers cut back on daily living and travel expenses.

The Thai Government has not invoked an emergency decree as the rallies on the first day of Bangkok shutdown were generally peaceful. While there were several traffic problems, there were no reports of violence. The government called upon the demonstrators to continue to protest non-violently to ensure public order.-VNA