Thailand PM imposes state of emergency after protests disrupt summit

[JURIST] Thailand Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva [BBC profile] on Saturday instituted a state of emergency in Bangkok and several provinces and cancelled [press release] an ongoing summit of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) [official website] leaders in the country following an outbreak of protests calling for his resignation. The protests were lead by the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD), a group associated with former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra [BBC profile; JURIST news archive]. Abhisit ended the state of emergency [Pattaya Daily News report] in the summit city of Pattaya later on Saturday, but the order remains in place in Bangkok and the surrounding area. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon [official profile] expressed regret [press release] at the summit's cancellation.

Under the state of emergency, public gatherings are banned, police are given broader powers to arrest, and the government may censor media reports, but large protests continued on Sunday [Bangkok Post report] despite the order. Thai Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban said the he did not believe there would be a coup [Xinhua report], but there have been reports that several government officials have been detained [Bangkok Post report] by the protesters.

Abhisit took over as prime minister in December, after the Constitutional Court of Thailand [official website, in Thai] ordered the dissolution [JURIST report] of the ruling People's Power Party (PPP) [party website, in Thai], and banned then-prime minister Somchai Wongsawat [Nation profile] from politics for five years as the result of an election fraud investigation. Thaksin, ousted as prime minister [JURIST report] in a 2006 military coup, was convicted on corruption charges [JURIST reports] by the Supreme Court of Thailand in October.



 

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