Thailand imposed a 60-day state of emergency [BBC report] in Bangkok and the surrounding area on Tuesday to respond to anti-government protests. The decree gives the government broad powers in handling the unrest including censoring the media, establishing curfews, banning public gatherings and detaining suspects without the need for criminal charges. The decision was announced following a Cabinet meeting in response to the escalating violence as protesters blockaded sections of the capital and were met by armed police resistance.
The protesters allege that the government is being run by former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra through his sister, current PM Yingluck Shinawatra [BBC profiles] and are calling for her removal from office. In December the Thailand government refused [JURIST report] requests to delay the upcoming elections scheduled for February due to the danger presented by the protests. In an interview in November, Yingluck Shinawatra also refused [JURIST report] to hold elections early to appease protesters. Earlier that month, Shinawatra invoked a special security law [JURIST report] granting additional power to police to curb unrest in Bangkok.