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Thai govt bans public gatherings
Publication Date : 24-01-2014
Curfew not imposed, dissemination of news will be vetted, authorities will now focus on arresting protest leaders
Under the emergency decree invoked on Wednesday, Thailand's caretaker government yesterday banned public gatherings of five or more people and the distribution of news in a manner that threatened national security, but stopped short of imposing curfew at night.
These measures were among the six published in the Royal Gazette following the declaration of a 60-day state of emergency in Bangkok, Nonthaburi and parts of Pathum Thani and Samut Prakan.
The announcement, signed by caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, also authorised the government's Centre for Maintaining Peace and Order (CMPO) to prohibit the use of transport in certain areas and the use of certain buildings, as well as the evacuation of people from certain places or areas.
Now that the state of emergency is in place, authorities will focus on arresting the leaders of the anti-government movement in a bid to end their rally that has gone on for more than 80 days, Labour Minister Chalerm Yoobamrung, who heads the CMPO, said.
Authorities are allowed to detain them for 30 days under the emergency law, he said.
There would be no violence against the protesters and there would be no operation to disperse the street demonstrations, he said.
"The government wants peace to be restored," he said.
The CMPO is considering arresting all the leaders of the People's Democratic Reform Committee in hopes of resolving the protest crisis and ending the demonstrations within 60 days, he said.
People providing financial support to the protest movement might face legal action, as their identities were known, he said, adding he might ask the anti-money laundering office to assist in investigations.
PM meets military top brass
Yingluck, who is also the defence minister, urged the armed forces to keep an eye on their weapons and ensure they would not be stolen during this time of high political tensions, said Colonel Thanathip Sawangsaeng, spokesman for the defence ministry.
Yingluck chaired a meeting with the defence council at the air force headquarters with Deputy Defence Minister General Yuthasak Sasiprapha, Permanent Secretary for Defence General Nipat Thonglek, Supreme Commander General General Thanasak Patimaprakorn, Army chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha, Navy chief Admiral Narong Pipatanasai, Air Force chief ACM Prajin Juntong and other senior brass.
The meeting discussed the military's scope of authority in enforcing the emergency decree and its role in helping police keep order at night, a source said. Military leaders were told to help monitor against more bomb attacks and warned to be careful when making public statements.
Defence council meetings are usually held at the defence ministry, but yesterday's meeting was moved as the venue had previously seen a siege by protesters.
Air Force Chief Prajin said the caretaker prime minister could use the air force headquarters as a meeting venue once in a while, but it would be inconvenient for the CMPO to use the office as its command centre because it is both an air base and an airport covered by many security rules.
There had been speculation that the CMPO would want to relocate from the defence ministry to the air force headquarters after protesters surrounded the ministry on Wednesday, forcing the CMPO to cancel its meeting.
Police Major-General Chanthawit Ramasut, the deputy commissioner of Metropolitan Police, said the police will set up 23 security checkpoints around the protest sites in Bangkok to prevent any smuggling in of weapons or violent incidents.
State of emergency measures
1. No gatherings of five or more people in areas marked out by the CMPO are allowed. People can only gather for legal demonstrations and elections. Actions inciting disorder are banned.
2. News reports and distribution of newspapers and other publications carrying distorted information or facts that might cause panic, affect peace and order or good morals are not allowed.
3. At the order of the CMPO chief, the use of public transport routes and vehicles for other purposes is prohibited.
4. The use of public buildings and areas, as well as entering specific places is prohibited under the orders of the CMPO chief.
5. People must evacuate certain areas for their own safety and not enter other areas in line with orders of the CMPO chief.
6. The CMPO chief will set a timeframe for enforcing the above orders and set a criteria for operation officers to minimise the impact on the general public.