Thailand Declares State Of Emergency; Opposition Stands FirmBy: Val Powell - January 24, 2014
This week, Thailand declared a state of emergency in Bangkok amid intense political unrest.
The government has issued a 60-day clampdown which gives them the right to issue curfews, censor the media and use military force against the public if necessary. The Thai government did, however, say that it does not intend to use force against protesters, even though protesters have been disrupting the capital Bangkok for weeks now.
Demonstrators in Thailand are pushing to overthrow Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra. The demonstrations, which started back in November, have left at least nine people dead and over 450 more wounded said Thai authorities.
Ever since Shinawatra started office she has been viewed as a controversial figure. Her billionaire brother, former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, was ran out of the country in 2006 after accusations of corruption. A large percentage of the Thai population view her as a “puppet” who is simply doing the bidding of her brother.
In an attempt to calm anti-government protesters Prime Minister Shinawatra dissolved the parliament and has agreed to new elections on Feb. 2. Her actions have proven insufficient — protesters are demanding that she leave office and have a “people’s council” oversee a new election.
On Saturday, Thailand’s main opposition party said it would boycott the February elections, reaffirming the position of the anti government protesters. “The election on Feb. 2 is not the solution for the country,” said Mr. Abhisit Vejjajiva, a former prime minister and opposition leader, “It will not lead to reform.” The opposition believes that the election will only result in the “same old power grab” by the ruling party.
For now, Army commander Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha said they are monitoring the situation to see whether the state of emergency will ease the violence. Those who are opposing the prime minister have refused to negotiate but Prayuth says he is in favor of discussions that will result in peace.
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