State of emergency goes into effect Wednesday, to last 60 days
Move follows weeks of anti-government protests
Measure allows for curfews to be imposed, suspects to be held without court permission
Thousands of protesters have stayed on streets ahead of February 2 elections
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The Thai government has declared a state of emergency for the tense capital of Bangkok amid anti-government protests, a security official said Tuesday.
It will go into effect Wednesday and will last 60 days, Thailand’s national security chief, Lt. Gen. Paradon Patthanathubut, told CNN.
Since demonstrations against Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra’s government began in November, at least nine people have died and more than 450 have been wounded, according to authorities.
The emergency decree gives authorities the power to impose curfews, detain suspects without court permission, censor media and declare parts of the capital off-limits.
In a bid to resolve the crisis, Yingluck dissolved parliament last month and called for new elections to be held February 2.
But the move has done little to appease protesters. They have called on Yingluck to step down from her caretaker position and be replaced by an unelected “people’s council,” which would see through electoral and political changes.
The opposition Democrat Party has said it will boycott the elections.
Protesters remain on streets
Paradon said the emergency decree had been considered because “we are predicting that (the) situation might get more violent” as the vote nears.
“We are witnessing more gun shootings and bomb incidents on the streets of Bangkok,” he said.
Thousands of protesters have remained on the streets ahead of the elections.
Protest leaders have said they want to rid Thailand of the influence of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, the older brother of Yingluck.
Thaksin was ousted in a military coup in 2006 and has spent most of the time since then in exile overseas. If he returns, he risks a two-year prison sentence on a corruption conviction, which he says was politically motivated.
The recent protests in Bangkok were prompted by a botched attempt by Yingluck’s government to pass an amnesty bill that would have opened the door for her brother’s return.
CNN’s Marie-Louise Gumuchian contributed to this report.