Emergency declared in Bangkok

September 2nd, 2008 - 10:06 am ICT by IANS  

Bangkok, Sep 2 (Xinhua) Thai Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej Tuesday announced a state of emergency here following violent clashes between pro and anti-government groups. The premier made the announcement at 7.00 a.m. after early morning confrontations between pro-government demonstrators led by the Democratic Alliance Against Dictatorship (DAAD) and anti-government protesters led by the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD).

At least one person was killed and dozens wounded in the clashes near the Government House compound, which has been occupied by PAD supporters since Aug 26.

Samak cited disturbances to law and order in the capital brought by some groups as the reason to declare the emergency. The order also put the army chief in charge of enforcing the emergency.

The imposition of emergency means security in the capital will be immediately taken over by the Internal Security Operations Command (ISOC), headed by premier Samak and practically run by the army.

This is the first time that the emergency law has been enforced since the new constitution was passed by the junta that governed the country after the Sep 19, 2006 bloodless military coup that ousted then premier Thaksin Shinawatra.

The state of emergency prohibits a gathering of more than five people. The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration announced that the 436 schools in the city will remain closed for three days.

A DAAD spokesman said they would follow the law and end the rally at Sanam Luang (Royal Field) in central Bangkok, while the PAD vowed to carry on the protest.

PAD leader Chamlong Srimuang quickly took the rally stage inside the Government House compound shortly after Samak declared the state of emergency, telling the supporters to remain at the rally site.

He assured the protesters, many of them women and senior-aged persons, of their safety and liberty, saying that Samak could only arrest the PAD leaders at most by imposing the emergency law.

“There won’t be enough prisons for us,” he said.

The PAD leaders also called on supporters in the South to shut down the airports in the tourist hubs Hat Yai and Phuket.

PAD supporters had stormed the two airports and another one in southern resort Krabi last Friday, causing temporary closure of the airports and cancellation of many flights.

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