Thailand: living with a state of emergency

The latest twist in the crisis in Thailand has seen the government impost a 60 day state of emergency. With the streets of Bangkok marked by tensions as protestors block roads in an effort to force the resignation of the present Prime Minister.

The state of emergency was announced after a cabinet meeting on Tuesday and comes after a spate of attacks with explosives and firearms on the anti-government protesters blockading central Bangkok for which the government and the protesters blame each other.

At the same time, a leader of the opposition has been shot and killed, even after the imposition of the state of emergency. Emergency rule is supposed to be administered by the police and the army, but the police have until now been told to avoid any confrontation with the protesters, and military commanders have made it clear they do not want to be drawn into the increasingly bitter conflict between the government and its opponents, our correspondent says.

While the protests have been largely peaceful so far, there have been sporadic outbreaks of violence, and at least 8 people have died since the end of November. Early on Saturday morning, unidentified gunmen shot and injured six protesters at one of the key rally sites in Bangkok.

Coup rumours have been circulating for some time, but while an army take-over might calm the situation temporarily, pro-government protesters may then take to the streets. The roots of the current tension run deep, with some people fearing an increasing division between the pro-government north and north-east, and the anti-government groups which are strongest in Bangkok and the South.

  • A peaceful resolution to the current stalemate
  • Cool heads to prevail in the tense atmosphere of street protests
  • The Thai police and security forces as they attempt to exercise restraint in dealing with protesters tonight and tomorrow
  • Thai Christians to play a key role in leading dialogue and reconciliation initiatives

Sources: BBC News;

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